December Volunteer of the Month: Jennifer Tolman

As our SMARTDC student representative, Jennifer is responsible for recruiting and motivating many of our favorite people, including after-school tutors. While at After-School Tutoring, she supports our students as they work on difficult homework assignments and helps them improve their writing. Jennifer has quickly become a part of the 826DC family, and extends this welcoming spirit to our students.

We asked Jennifer to tell us more about her experiences with 826DC.


How (and how long ago) did you first get involved with 826DC?

I first got involved with 826DC this past September. I’m a student at George Washington University, and I wanted to get involved in some sort of tutoring program in the greater DC area. The Nashman Center for Civic Engagement at GW helps students find different service opportunities throughout the city, and that’s how I found 826DC.

What is your favorite part about volunteering for 826DC?

I help out with After-School Tutoring twice a week, and it has been a really rewarding experience so far. I love being able to work with the same students every time and seeing their progress in their homework and writing. The environment at 826DC is incredibly positive and welcoming, making my time there something I look forward to every week.

Do you have any stories that you would like to share from your time volunteering?

Sometimes students come to tutoring after a long, difficult day at school, and don’t want to get started on homework. Helping them begin to open up and have fun at AST is always exciting and encouraging.

What benefits do students receive from having homework and writing support outside of the classroom at programs like After-School Tutoring?

Programs like After-School Tutoring provide students with a space for learning and support that isn’t school or home. AST gives students access to a variety of tutors with different styles of helping, as well as the opportunity to develop their writing in a setting where it isn’t judged or graded.

I try to emphasize that they have the opportunity to create something that they can be really proud of. Click To Tweet

Do you have any words of encouragement that you use when trying to motivate students to tackle difficult assignments?

If a student isn’t very motivated to start working on a challenging piece of homework, I try to emphasize that they have the opportunity to create something that they can be really proud of. An assignment also doesn’t necessarily have to be done in one sitting. Sometimes it can really help to take little breaks as a student progresses through their work.