Sunday, March 29, 2009

Volunteer Spotlight: Fran Fritzmann

This week’s volunteer spotlight is on one of our mentors who has been really working hard to develop a great relationship with her student, native Chicagoan, Fran Fritzmann. Although this is their first year working together at Cabrini Connections, they actually have been together for two years, since they originally got matched up last year at Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, a Kindergarden-6th grade version of Cabrini Connections. She got involved there almost immediately upon moving into the neighborhood, seeking a way to connect with her new community and lend a hand to youth like Arden who could benefit from a caring mentor. Although this was her first time getting involved with youth tutoring/mentoring, Fran was able to quickly gain both Arden and her mother’s trust through frequent communication, dinner dates and working with her on a wide variety of subjects and projects. For example, Fran recently helped Arden prepare for her state-mandated Constitution test and the ISATs, which are a crucial component to high school admissions in Chicago Public Schools. Fran also often finds herself helping Arden with her social studies and math homework. Fran’s mentoring and homework help have helped Arden earn all As and Bs on her latest report card. Though Fran confesses that “Actually, I suck at math, I can’t do anything in my head,” this hasn’t prevented her from becoming a Certified Public Accountant and serving as the Vice President of Finance at Tighe Publishing Services (TPS), which is a full-service educational development house that partners with educational publishers to produce textbooks.

At TPS, she describes herself as a jack of all trades, due in part to her diverse background, having received a degree in Human Resource Management at Northeastern Illinois University. As you might guess, her textbook development job offers her a unique insight on the course materials that Arden’s school, Lasalle Language Academy, assigns her. Her main complaint, which is shared by many others in the textbook development community, is that textbooks are being developed almost exclusively to meet government mandated testing standards (i.e. the No Child Left Behind Act) with less and less emphasis being put on developing readable and engaging prose. This is unfortunate because it allows for less flexibility and creativity on the part of textbook developers like Fran in their important job of educating our nation’s youth.

We want to thank Fran for her involvement with Arden and our program. Keep up the great work!

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