Our members are our greatest asset at ATP and we love to highlighting the work that they do and the resources they are proud of on a weekly basis. On ATP Thursdays, we put the spotlight on a member of the week, a resource of the week, or a best practice of the week. We’re a community of learning. We work best when we share our passions and practices.
Today, we bring you the work of Vanessa Flora-Nakoski of the McDaniel College Writing Center and the winner of this year’s ATP Research Award. Vanessa has been working at McDaniel’s Writing Center for a year. Here’s Vanessa!
ATP: What drove you to the field of academic support and tutoring?
Vanessa: I had a rough first year of college, so I started working on campus in several mentorship capacities. That got me hooked on supporting students. From there, I went on to teach as an adjunct. Anyone who knows the adjunct life will understand the power of the realization that I could switch to learning centers and have greater job security while also continuing to mentor students academically. Once there, I fell in love with the work, the field, and the mission of academic support.
ATP: What do you love the most about your job?
Vanessa: I love watching students have the AHA! moment, either as a student or as a peer tutor. Seeing them make the connection between what they are learning and what actually makes them passionate as an individual is intoxicating.
ATP: What’s a big challenge that you are facing at your center?
Vanessa: Like many of us, funding and space are central concerns. I’m working to implement a more robust set of tutor training and certification initiatives, as well as expand our services, but it can be hard to get resources to support those initiatives.
ATP: What’s one piece of advice you would give to your colleagues?
Vanessa: Run at your problems head on, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It’s okay to admit to someone that you’re nervous about asking them something, and it’s okay to admit when you’ve made a mistake. It can be uncomfortable to be so open with each other, but we make more progress collectively when we’re all honest with the struggles (and triumphs) we all face.
ATP: Please describe the best practice you employ at your center.
Vanessa: We send all tutoring report forms to the students themselves and make them a part of the process of writing those reports during the session.
ATP: What’s a fun fact (not related to tutoring) that we should know about you?
Vanessa: I love seasonal candy (Peeps, licorice jelly beans, candy corn, etc) and always have some at my desk for students.