Monday, April 25, 2011

Escaping the Urban Environment in Jamaica Bay

Kayaking in Jamaica Bay
I have been enjoying Jamaica Bay since the spring of 2008. This will be the fourth summer I will paddle a kayak in its waters and the second summer to sail in its waters. Over the past three years, there have been times when, under precise conditions and in the right locations, I have forgotten that I was paddling or sailing in New York City. There are places in the Bay where it seems that not a building is within sight. When jets landing and taking off from JFK are not flying over the Bay, whether I am in a kayak or a sailboat, I can imagine that I am in a vast wilderness area, surrounded by nothing but water, marshes, islands, and birds.

Thanks to my paddling friend Bonnie, I recently learned that the Gateway National Recreation Area, of which Jamaica Bay is a part, tops National Geographics list of Top Ten Urban Escapes. And no wonder. I have escaped the urban environment while on Jamaica Bay too many times to remember.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ruminations from a WyzAnt Tutor

Me, wearing my Doctor's (D.Min) Academic Hood
I only recently learned about the WyzAnt Searchable Database of Tutors Nation Wide and my WyzAnt account went active less than a month and a half ago. Since then I have secured two students. I have tutored three times for a total of five and a quarter hours, earning a little extra income. More importantly, I have already made a positive contribution to the lives and academic success of my students. Although I am certified in twenty subjects, I am currently tutoring my students, a seventh grader and a ninth grader, in Math. Eventually, I will also tutor the seventh grader in English and Chess.

I am restricting myself to students within a mile or so walking distance of my home in Ridgewood, NY, a neighborhood of the New York City Borough of Queens, in order to avoid transportation costs. This limits the number of students I can tutor but allows me to keep more of the tutoring fees I earn. While I would like to add another student or two, for now, I am happy with just the two I am working with.

Both of my students are above average. They live in good, stable homes. They need a little more individualized attention than they receive in public school, however. I am tutoring each one between ninety minutes to two hours, once a week or every other week, depending on our schedules.

The families of these students and I would not have connected without WyzAnt, and so far I am very happy with the service and support WyzAnt provides. I appreciate that there were no upfront costs. Other than the optional background check, which I paid for, I was able to begin tutoring with no financial investment or commitment. Being assured that clients have their payment information of file before I show up to tutor means that I enjoy the peace of mind of knowing I will receive payment for the tutoring I provide. Handling all initial email contacts through the WyzAnt site guarantees a certain amount of protection and anonymity up until tutoring actually begins. The direct deposit option means I do not worry about my checks being lost in the mail.

While I found some of the certification tests a bit simple, especially so in my strong areas, I also realize that one does not have to be a rocket scientist to help a teenager with their math homework or preparing for the New York State Regents Exams. Anyone with a few years of college, and especially an advanced degree or two, will certainly think the certification tests are easy. On the other hand, the tests do serve to weed out any potential tutors who have no knowledge of the subjects they desire to tutor.

I have already recommended WyzAnt to some of my colleagues looking for part-time work and income. I have posted WyzAnt Posters with my personalized code, available from WyzAnt, around the neighborhood. I have also distributed WyzAnt business cards, also with my personalized code and available from WyzAnt, to my students so they can distribute them to their classmates.

I look forward to finding more students, tutoring more subjects, earning more extra income, and, most of all, making a positive contribution to the lives and academic success of more students, thanks to WyzAnt.

Any tutoring I do through WyzAnt is independent of tutoring opportunities I find through other means.  So, if you or your child would like some indivualized tutoring in the privacy and convienance of your home, you  may respond to this post or sendme an email rather than going through the WyzAnt site.  Although I currently limit my WyzAnt tutoring to Ridgewood, I am willing to travel any reasonable distance accessable by subway or bus.  My current fee is $45/hr for a minimum of a one hour session, additional time available in 15 minute increments, for up to a three hour tutoring session.  I give a $5/hr discount to clients within a thrity minute walk of my home.

Monday, April 4, 2011

About the April 2011 Header Photo

This April 2011 Header Photo (scan of a print), posted four days late, features our third dog, Hermes (2005-2008), poised atop a rock and overlooking West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness, at an elevation of over 4,500 feet along the Alleghany Front.  Dolly Sods is a Wilderness Area in the Monongahela National Forest and one of my favorite hiking and backpacking areas. My excursions there have ranged from day hikes to weeklong backpacking trips.  It is only one of only three places I have ever seen a bear.  Hermes was with me when I saw it.