Tutor Profile: Speaking the Universal Language of Math

Dr. Chantal Dothey has been volunteering as a math tutor with Seeds of Literacy for six years. When she was a physician at MetroHealth, she popped down the street to the West 25th Street location for evening classes.

As luck would have it, Seeds East opened just as she retired after more than 29 years as a neonatologist (a pediatrician specializing in newborn care). Since she lives on the East Side, the convenience of the new location made her continued work with Seeds seem almost fated.

Whether working in the delivery room resuscitating babies or on duty in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Chantal used math a lot on the job. She appreciates how universal math is, and prefers to teach it over language arts. “Math translates well – I like math. Because I’m from Belgium, I speak French so I don’t like to tutor English, so I do math and that’s fine.”

She has some tips for math mastery. “Practice the multiplication tables. It pushes students,” she says. Taking a concrete, structured approach can be rewarding. “They get to see their progress and that’s helpful.”

In addition to her work with Seeds, Chantal maintains a packed volunteering schedule. She spends Monday mornings at the Cleveland Food Bank; Monday nights at Peace Action, where she’s a board member; Wednesday nights at Black on Black; and Thursdays after school with Peace in the Hood.

Overall, she finds the environment at Seeds both congenial and intellectually stimulating. “I like the personnel – they’re very open. There are conferences that are very interesting.”

But it’s the students who really make her time feel well spent. “They are attached to me, know my name, ask when I’m coming back,” she says, adding that “it’s good to feel appreciated by students.”

Chantal is impressed by how doing her small part at Seeds of Literacy can make such a big difference. “It’s very interesting because tutoring is such a small thing for me to do, but it brings the students a lot.” 

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