Daily Point of Light # 2147 Apr 26, 2002

Marisa Flavin has been a tutor at the “Saturday School” for Eugene Myer Elementary school children in inner city Washington, DC for four years. She is the youngest tutor in the program and relates very well to the students. She recognizes needs that adults may overlook and takes initiative to enrich the students’ experience.

Marisa’s work meets the community need of “one to one” attention for gifted students in the inner city. Due to the emphasis in inner-city schools on raising average standardized test scores, gifted students are unfortunately ignored. Acknowledging and assisting these children in the inner city in the short term will encourage them to develop their gifts. Hopefully, Saturday School will encourage them to succeed and reverse the downward spiral of the inner city education program.

Marisa recognizes the need to enrich reading skills taught on Saturday. She began a “book drive” in her suburban neighborhood, collecting children’s books to bring to Myer. Her students enjoy casually borrowing these books, which are replaced by ongoing donations. Marisa also convinced her suburban neighbors to register Eugene Myer as a recipient of “grocery points” when they shopped at Giant and Safeway. These points accrue toward computer donations to Myer Elementary.

So often gifted children are the subjects of peer pressure not to use their talents. Saturday School attempts to show these kids the enjoyment and the stimulation, which comes from exercising their minds. Marisa encourages children to construct their own mathematical flash cards and rewards correct answers with hand stamps, which delights the students. She organizes holiday programs to commemorate Christmas, Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Day. She makes these programs interactive using word games, math games and arts and crafts. She also helps to organize field trips.

Marisa has devoted hundreds of hours to improve the quality of gifted education at the Myer Saturday School and received no school credit for her participation. She recognizes the need and the unlimited potential of these inner-city children and acts to accommodate these needs and maximize their potential. Although the long-term impact of this enrichment is difficult to measure, the immediate impact is apparent in regular students attendance.