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Ayzahna’s story

Meet someone you have helped….Ayzahna.

When 8-year-old Ayzahna enters fourth grade in the fall, it will be with a new attitude and a newfound sense of achievement. “I told her all along she could do it,” said her mom Takesha. For the past two years, Ayzahna has struggled with a lack of motivation — and the lackluster grades to show for it. “Some of her papers came back with Fs and Ds,” Takesha recounted. “Her grades in reading and math in particular were not what they could’ve been.”

But successful tutoring with a Pennsylvania-certified teacher at The Learning Lamp provided Ayzahna with the tools and perseverance to work harder and reach higher. “Mr. (Marc) Maurer was really pushing her. He’s a teacher that really cares. Sometimes he had to show her a little tough love. He would say, ‘No. I know you can do better.’ And she finally realized, ‘Yes, I can.’”

Three weeks before the end of the school year, something clicked. “It was like a light bulb went off, and she was bringing home Bs. Instead of fighting with her to do her homework, she actually started it before I got home,” said Takesha.

The tutoring Ayzahna received was made possible in part from contributions to the United Way of the Laurel Highlands. Ayzahna was eligible for a partial tutoring scholarship at The Learning Lamp based on her participation in the National Free and Reduced School Lunch Program. The Learning Lamp sets its tutoring rates on a sliding scale based on income and supplements what families are unable to pay with scholarships provided by the United Way and other individual and corporate donors.

Takesha initially checked into tutoring services at a for-profit provider, but quickly dismissed the idea. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. The assessment alone was $150,” she said.

Although Ayzahna completed third grade on a high note, Takesha wasn’t about to let her daughter lose momentum. Ayzahna is continuing to tutor through the summer to improve her reading skills.

“There are a lot of families that would not be able to afford tutoring, if not for the reduced rate and scholarships they receive. I want Ayzahna to keep this light burning, so when she starts fourth grade, she’s ready to learn,” said Takesha.

And thanks to the generosity of donors that support the United Way, Ayzahna now has the chance to do just that.

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