Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Use Disney Lyrics to Explain Active Verbs

Name: Lu Zheng
From: Nashville, Tennessee
Grade: 10th
School: Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School
Votes: 0

Entering an academic magnet in the middle of downtown Nashville is
intimidating. We come from different middle schools and loathe to
break out of our bubbles and meet classmates so different from us. As
class president, the basic role is just to keep the class informed on
upcoming events and announcements. But I wanted my new classmates to
get to know each other and benefit from this diversity.

Thus, I started a class Instagram. Every week, I interview a student
and post a quote and fun fact. One student is a champion chess and
ping-pong player. Another was held back in preschool for biting
someone. One student built mosquito nets for local clinics in
Tanzania. I’ve made new friends through these
interviews, and other students have told me they’ve found common
ground and started ice-breaking conversations based on these

Outside school, I volunteer weekly at Homework
Hotline, a phone-based tutoring service for struggling students. I
actually started with a fear of talking on the phone.
seemed impersonal and awkward, and I worried my explanations would be
unclear. Now, four years and 165 tutoring
sessions later, I bond with my fourth graders by using pizza
analogies to explain fractions or Disney lyrics to explain active
verbs to fifth graders. The first time a high schooler specifically
requested me, it made my week. “She’s really good at explaining
things over the phone,” she said.

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