When people hear the word “library” a few things typically come to mind; namely librarians and books. But a library is run by people working in many different roles. They’re all helping community members with much more than book recommendations. Our series Spend a Day with a Library Worker takes you inside the lives of our Library staff in different roles and follows them on a typical workday.
It’s before 2:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon and the Sharonville Branch Library is relatively quiet. There are customers typing away at the computer desks; a little girl in the purple coat thoughtfully chooses a book from the children’s section and hands it to her father. This will all change when school lets out. By 4p.m. the Library is filled with the bustle and energy from elementary school kids to teenagers in high school.
The Library provides a quiet place with minimal distractions to focus on their homework for the evening. After participating in a craft or maybe a snack provided through federal funding at many of the branch libraries throughout the county, students have access to a free resource not everyone knows about: Homework Help Aides.
Kevin Kim started working as a Homework Help Aide at the beginning of the 2019 school year. At 24 branch libraries, opens a new window, as well as seven days a week in the William Hueneke Homework Center, opens a new window at the Downtown Main Library, Aides like Kevin are available to provide free tutoring to school-aged children and teens who may need some extra assistance in completing an assignment or grasping a new concept.
“I’ve always loved the Library environment: the books, the staff, and the activities provide a wonderful space for fostering a love of learning,” said Kevin. “After learning of the Homework Help Aide job opportunity where I could be a contributor in making an impact on the community, I decided to apply.”
After Kevin arrives at the Library and checks his emails from the previous day, he goes out onto the floor to help anyone that may have homework questions. “Some days are very busy, with several students needing help at the same time,” said Kevin. “If this happens, I try to manage which concept I think would be the hardest to teach, and which one wouldn’t need as much help. I teach the student with the easiest concept first and allow them to start the homework, while I move on to the next student. If I have no students, I attend to my own homework and walk around the children’s area every 15 minutes to interact with the students playing games or doing homework in order to build a relationship where they could come to me for help in the future.”
Kevin’s favorite aspect of being a Homework Help Aide is when a student finally understands a concept that is new to them. “Many times, due to the monotonous nature of homework, a lot of my students do not enjoy school, missing out on the joy in learning and problem solving,” he said. “But sometimes, after explaining a concept, the student just gets it, and they breeze through the rest of the work set with a smile on their faces. Seeing this enjoyment in learning a new concept, and the student telling me things like, ‘Oh, that wasn’t so bad’, brings me immense fulfillment and joy.”
Because Kevin covers a wide variety of subjects, teaching children from kindergarten to seniors in high school, he sometimes encounters concepts that are difficult to explain. Subjects like complex geometry, homophones, or even long division can be quite a challenge. Not understanding the subject could also be frustrating for the students, which makes it harder for the student to grasp the already difficult concepts.
“When things get challenging, my student and I always take a step back, take a deep breath, and try tackling the concept again, using a different approach to facilitate a better understanding,” said Kevin. “Even though this is the most challenging part of my job, the reward in the student finally getting the concept makes every step worth it.”
One of his students, whom we'll call Elizabeth, was really struggling with math. When she first came in, she was having difficulty understanding basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills that were being taught in her classroom. She’d begun to fall behind and her grades were struggling.
“After Elizabeth came in consistently for a few weeks, and we struggled through the math together, one day she finally seemed to grasp the concepts,” said Kevin. “We were working with counting money at that time, and through the skills that we worked on she transitioned to adding the currency flawlessly. She later reported to me that at school, while all the other kids were struggling with the money concept, she was doing really well. In fact, later that month, she got her first A on a math test!”
In addition to Homework Help, the Library also offers students of all ages free access to BrainFuse HelpNow, opens a new window. This platform offers live online tutoring and expert help chats, study guides, special programs for adult learners, and more.
Homework Help Aides are available during the school year between September and May. This program is made possible through the generous support and underwriting of The Library Foundation and the Charles H. Dater Foundation. You can find the schedule for each of the branch libraries here, opens a new window.