A Conversation with a Tutor from the NOLA Tutoring Collaborative
The NOLA Tutoring Collaborative exists to help our city’s students catch up academically after a few years of disruption from the pandemic and Hurricane Ida. The Tutoring Collaborative also aims to ignite future educators in our city. Dairion Weber, a young educator who served as a tutor last year, shares her reflections here.
Dairion Weber is a Booker T. Washington ‘20 graduate. She began her time in the classroom through the KIPP Alumni Teaching Force in 2017–she took an education course while in high school, and had real-life practice supporting an elementary-school classroom teacher. Last spring, as part of the NOLA Tutoring Collaborative, she met with seventh graders twice a week after school and helped them prepare for the LEAP test.
Today, she is a college student and a paraprofessional at KIPP East. Here, she answers questions about her experience with the NOLA Tutoring Collaborative:
The NOLA tutoring collaborative wasn’t your first time working in the classroom. What has your journey as an educator been like?
I am also a part of the KIPP New Orleans Alumni Teaching Force, which taught me how to be a teacher while I was still in school–before I graduated, back in 2020. I’ve been teaching because I was a part of the Alumni Teaching Force since about 2017–but it never was one-on-one, and it was for primary grades.
Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been working alongside my former KIPP teachers…I’ve been working in KIPP schools. I’ve been tutoring. I’ve been teaching, I’ve been interning, I’ve been subbing.
Were you able to see your impact?
Now I work at KIPP East, and my former seventh graders that I had last year are eighth graders this year. And…they passed the LEAP! They just come and tell me every day like, “Ms. Weber, thank you, I don’t think I would have passed without you.”
So yeah, that’s what I took from it – them understanding that it was a good experience for them, and me seeing their progress and seeing that they were able to grow.
That’s impressive impact on your students. How did tutoring impact you?
I learned that I can actually teach somebody’s child, to see the progress in it, from just a small couple of weeks. I actually really enjoy it. I love seeing the progress. I love that it’s real, like the studies are accurate – if you work, if you exercise your brain, if you can relate to the person that’s teaching you, you grow better, you grow quicker, and you actually retain the knowledge… if you are happy and can relate to your educator, the knowledge sticks. And that is very much true for myself and my students that I tutored.
What got you interested in education to begin with?
I had amazing teachers that really inspired me and I just wanted to do the same for other kids.
The seventh graders that I had last year, I related to them, because I’m not too much older than them. They’re like, 14. I’m 21. We’re not that far off–culturally, we’re still in the same areas of life. Like, they listen to all the same music I listen to. They understand what’s going on in the world–like, the problems that have us riled up? They’re riled up about them, too. We relate on so many levels.
And also, seeing a young Black woman come in and tutor them, that’s inspiring them to also try and do this. Because that’s the reason I wanted to do this–seeing my peers actually come back and teach us, and relate to us, and talk to us about the real world? I was like, “Oh, I want to do that, with other kids too, you know? I want to help guide them and mold them to be the best they could be.”
How does it make you feel to tutor?
I feel empowered, doing things like that, like giving back to them and seeing them understand. I feel inspired because, you know, learning never stops… becoming a teacher has really taught me that you are going to always learn more than your students – like they teach me stuff every day.
When you look to the future, what do you see?
I want to be some sort of advocate for the kids in my community, in our schools–and not just at KIPP schools, for schools all around the world for Black children.
Dairion has made a clear impact on the students she tutored, and the experience was meaningful for them both. We can’t wait to see how her career grows from here. The NOLA Tutoring Collaborative has now expanded to 9 schools and will reach 300 students through 100 more tutors in the year to come. We’re optimistic about the impact they’ll have, too.