From the Heart: Wake Forest alumni tutor Charlotte school students

Wake Forest Alum Missy Stewart during a Heart Math tutoring session prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shifted sessions virtually.

Pro Humanitate – a pillar of the Wake Forest experience – is not only a motto for its enrolled students, but also for a dedicated alumni base that continues to find ways to serve their community, even after their time on campus has come to an end. 

Upon her graduation from Wake Forest, Padgett Vaughn (‘12) took that calling both personally and professionally by becoming a teacher in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) system. It was then that she discovered Heart Math Tutoring, a Charlotte-based nonprofit that provides free, one-on-one volunteer-delivered tutoring for CMS students throughout the school day. 

“When I was teaching, I quickly realized that so many of my students needed additional one-on-one support for their lessons outside of the classroom,” explained Vaughn. “When I learned that Heart was providing this type of support for students I was eager to join the team. I saw it as a way to not only support the students but my fellow teachers as well.”

Now the Senior Program Manager at Heart, Vaughn manages principal relations and program operations at four school sites while overseeing new school recruitment, in addition to heading volunteer recruitment for Wake Forest alumni. 

“Not long after I started at Heart, I was tasked with recruiting volunteers, and I thought that Wake Forest would be a phenomenal partner for the work we were doing,” said Vaughn. “I was connected with Patricia Zoder from WAKECharlotte and Evan McMillan in the Alumni Engagement Office, and it took off from there.” 

Wake Forest Alum Ben Rose during an in-person Heart Math Tutoring session prior to the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Wake Forest Alum Ben Rose during an in-person Heart Math Tutoring session prior to the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Since 2014, WFU alumni have helped support Heart’s mission by serving as volunteers – tutoring 366 students in 20 different schools, including 56 just this year. Their involvement extends beyond their work with students, with three WFU alumni serving on the Board of Directors: Steve Beam (‘82), Connie Carlson (‘87) and Eric Eubank (‘86). 

With the shift to virtual learning over the past year, the need for Heart’s services has increased along with its demand for volunteer tutors. As schools moved their curriculum to virtual learning, so did Heart, opening up its volunteer pool to individuals both in and out of Charlotte.

“Right now, our greatest need is tutors. We still have students on our waitlist at each of our schools, so we’re looking for people that are able and willing to spend an hour each week with students” explained Vaughn. 

Previous experience – either tutoring or with math – is not necessary to become a Heart math tutor. All volunteers undergo a 30-minute training module, a one-hour live virtual orientation with an on-site coordinator, and a background check. Additional support sessions are also available to all tutors to assist with technology and curriculum inquiries, with live support during each session from a Heart Program Coordinator.

Participants in a Heart Math Tutoring session take a mind break during a virtual session.

Participants in a Heart Math Tutoring session take a brain break during a virtual session.

“We want this opportunity to be accessible for anyone with internet access and an hour each week that is interested in helping children grow their number sense. A lot of people discount themselves right off the bat because they have this fear of math, but beyond the numbers, we’re working toward a positive growth mindset in our students.” 

Vaughn continued, “We want our students to see math and not be scared. Through the work of our tutors, we’re helping them see that it’s OK to be challenged by a subject because it means that we’re growing. We don’t want them deciding that math isn’t for them. We want them to see that math can be fun.”

If you are interested in becoming a virtual tutor for Heart, you can apply here. Sessions are held virtually each week for an hour. Volunteers do not have to be local to Charlotte or North Carolina to participate. 

If you are a Wake Forest alum and are connected or engaged with an organization that has a need for virtual volunteers, please contact Evan McMillan in the Alumni Engagement office. Through its network, the Alumni Engagement office can help support volunteer activities for Wake Forest alumni throughout the United States. 

Become a virtual tutor with Heart