A Community of Scholars, Parents, and Tutors
WHO WE ARE
Updated for 2022-2023
Our mission at Canopy Scholars is to work toward equity in education for underserved students. We provide tutoring, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and community building programs to students marginalized by race and income.
The students served by Canopy Scholars are bicultural and bilingual, the first in their families to navigate the U.S. school culture, their parents have emigrated from Central America and two East African countries, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
The students at Canopy Scholars are among the most ethnically diverse and economically challenged students in the Shoreline School District. Shoreline Schools are rapidly increasing in diversity and the opportunity gap for students facing racial or economic inequity is an increasing reality throughout the school district.
Our work at Canopy is to ensure that these brilliant and underserved students grow into their full academic potential.
Canopy tutoring in session
WHAT WE DO
Three afternoons each week of the school year, 65 students arrive for tutoring. When students walk in the door at Canopy Scholars, they experience community – a sense of belonging and connection. They are greeted by people of color who look like them and who make them feel important and included. After a fun check-in conversation with tutors, everyone heads out for free time. Tutors play four-square and football and soccer and board games alongside students. When tutoring starts, students are more willing to tell their tutor they don’t know how to multiply fractions if they’ve just played and laughed together.
Elementary tutoring starts with homework, moves into sharpening math and vocabulary skills, then map challenges, (find every country that begins with the letter ‘A’), and academic games. Canopy’s underlying goal: empowering students to be at, or above, their grade level. This is critical as students grapple with the academic challenges of the past two years. Tutoring for both elementary and middle school students continues through the summer on an as-needed basis. Canopy tutors help students reinforce skills so that they can hit the ground running in September.
Solving a math problem
This fall we are empowering a high school student leadership team to lead Canopy’s middle school tutoring. This team includes four stellar Canopy tutors who are the children of immigrants. One of the student leaders is Samantha, pictured here (as a 5th grader) alongside her Canopy tutor.
Samantha, now a senior in high school, knows the impact of being tutored by someone who looks like you, especially when 90% of your teachers are white. Koket, another member of this team, talks about her experience as an immigrant in this interview:
This new student leadership team is working alongside Canopy’s director to increase academic resources for tutors, and empower students through discussions on social justice issues. All of Canopy’s middle school students are people of color and identify as Black. Their parents identify as immigrants and have asked Canopy to help their kids know what it means to be Black in America. Samantha and Koket and the team lead discussions with the students around topics of equity, racism, social media, and growing up a minority in America.
Recently, a student was killed by another student at a local school, resulting in all Shoreline Schools going on lockout. That afternoon at tutoring, the tutors asked students to describe how they felt at that moment. Kids described being scared and confused. Kids described their grief in learning that the student who was killed was of their same ethnic group. Tutors will be continuing this conversation with students.
Nathaniel building a robot with his tutor Max at Canopy’s Robotics Camp 2022
SECOND, HANDS-ON LEARNING AT ROBOTICS CAMP:
At the start of summer, Canopy Scholars build robots and program them for different missions. Students are led by a technology teacher, mentors from a local high school robotics team, and Canopy tutors. Students are empowered by having access to state-of-the-art Lego Spike Prime robot kits and Chromebook computers.
In a fun environment, students build robots and give them unique characteristics to achieve different tasks, (or to intimidate the other robots). In daily competitions, robots push cups out of a huge ring, navigate mazes, and traverse a ramp to execute precision moves. Kids acquire skills important to their future – critical thinking, coding, fundamentals of engineering and technology, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership.
Canopy’s robotics camp enables students to build skills and confidence in finding unique solutions to problems. One day, they will be finding unique solutions to solve problems that will change the world.
A preview of Canpoy’s Robotics Camp
We know that when students experience community – a sense of belonging and connection, they are empowered to thrive. The same is true for parents.
When a family immigrates to the United States, it takes years to feel comfortable. Every day is a challenge academically, financially, emotionally, mentally, and socially. Just like with students, when parents walk into Canopy, our aim is that they feel important and included. When a parent comes to Canopy and see someone who looks like them, there is a sense of safety and confidence. When parents feel safe, students feel safe.
Senait with her son Nahier
During tutoring, moms gather in an adjacent classroom for coffee and conversation. They share thoughts and ideas about their children’s education and ask questions about voting, or parenting, or the value of being part of the PTA, all a safe environment.
Canopy staff with moms of Canopy Scholars
Canopy partners with the YMCA to enable families to experience spring family camp at Camp Colman. Camping is a completely new experience for most Canopy families – they spend time walking on the beach, building forts, learning archery, climbing walls, tie-dying t-shirts, playing basketball, hockey, soccer, going canoeing, eating s’mores, and singing around the campfire.
Families have great experiences and come home with wonderful memories and fun stories. One mom said, “that weekend was the most fun I’ve had since I moved to the United States 12 years ago!”
“It’s more than just tutoring, we help students register for classes, grow as students, and have a safe place to discuss social justice issues.”
“When I walk in the door, I feel like I’m home.”
“I really enjoy tutoring at Canopy, there’s a great community and people know each other.”
“Canopy gives us space to meet for conversation and coffee while our children are being tutored. We share our thoughts and ideas and ask questions of each another in a safe environment.”
“I help create community for kids as a tutor at Canopy and find community for myself there at the same time.”
“One day I want to give back to my community the way Canopy has given to me.”