Homework Hotline Q&A

Ms. Willie Mae McLeod

What’s your name and what subject do you teach?

My name is Ms. Willie Mae McLeod, and I’m a retired teacher. The last subjects I taught were chemistry

and physics, but I have experience with all of the sciences. In other words, general science, physical

science, chemistry, earth science — the whole gamut.

·How long have you been tutoring for HH? What is your teaching background?

Well, I taught science for 37 years before retiring, and I’ve been a homework hotline tutor for 12 years.

· What type of questions do you get the most, what subject and specifically what questions?

It’s hard to say which questions I get the most, because it all depends on the time of year. First

semester, I get a lot of chemistry and physics questions. Second semester, it seems like I get a lot

of elementary questions, mainly dealing with earth science. Occasionally I’ll get a physical or health

sciences question.

· What makes you want to tutor for HH?

Well, I’ve always enjoyed teaching. Period. With tutoring, being able to work with students one on one

and help them understand a concept they didn’t get in class is always an incentive. It makes you feel

good to know you did something to help somebody else, and I’ve always enjoyed that feeling.

· Do you feel you are making a difference and why?

Most definitely. It’s a good feeling to know that once you hang the phone up with a student, they

understand the concept or whatever it is that they’re doing. I also do math from 4-5, and even just

hearing the excitement in their voice — the, “Oh, that’s how you do it!” — it’s a good feeling.

· Can you think of a good story of when you have really helped a student?

It’s kind of hard to pinpoint just one story. I have so many students that I’ve helped. We seldom get

students that call back multiple semesters. Now, the girl that I was talking to a few minutes ago, I have

worked with several times, and she’ll call back and tell me, “I made a hundred! I made a hundred on that

assignment!” And I’ll say, “Well, I knew you’d make a hundred.” Then she’ll say, “Now I have another

assignment!” So I get that quite a lot.

· How would you improve the HH program?

Uh, well, there are some things they’re working on now to improve it. It would help us if we could

improve the visual aspect. When you came in a few minutes ago, the girl on the phone had a

chart with numbers, and she needed help with conversions — numbers to decimals, fractions,

that kind of thing. Well, it often becomes difficult when she’s trying to tell me what she’s looking at,

and . Improving the visual aspect would help quite a bit. We don’t always have the textbook or the

worksheets the children are using. So that’s one example.

· What subject do you teach?

I work with elementary math and all of social studies.

· How long have you been tutoring for HH? What is your teaching background?

I’ve been tutoring for over ten years. I can’t remember exactly when I started, but it’s been over ten

years. I’ve been teaching for over twenty-two years, all with the Atlanta Public School system.

· What type of questions do you get the most, what subject and specifically what questions?

Most of my questions come from elementary math, and most of the elementary math are just basic

algorithms, fractions, multiplication, adding, subtracting. As far as social studies, most of it is just simple

history. A lot of World War II questions, a lot of American Revolution when you start talking about

middle school, and I get a lot of Georgia history questions with 8th grade.

· What makes you want to tutor for HH? Do you feel you are making a difference and why?

I wanted to assist students beyond the classroom — even when they get home. Many students get

home, and they don’t have the knowledge to complete their assignments. They didn’t get it in school,

and their parents might not be there to help them, so they just say “I can’t do it,” or “I didn’t know

how to do it.” I wanted to find a way to help students without actually being there. A lot of times, all

those students need is a little help — they just need someone to talk to to help them out. I’m happy HH

enables me to provide that.

· Can you think of a good story of when you have really helped a student?

I can think of when I helped a student out with a project. They had a social studies project — kind of like

a science fair project, but with social studies — and we worked on it over the course of several weeks.

And they moved onto the next round, and they did pretty good. They called me to let me know they

made it to the district level.

· How would you improve the HH program?

Have the books online. Definitely. If we could actually have the workbooks that most of the

students are working out of, or a way we could visually see the papers they’re using, that

would help a lot. It’s hard to do work with geometry, maps, or graphing without actually seeing

the worksheets they’re working on. If we could find a way to do that, it would be a huge

improvement.

· What subject do you teach?

Mathematics.

· How long have you been tutoring for HH? What is your teaching background?

I taught mathematics for 42 years. I worked 6 years in Dekalb, and then I left and I taught one year

at Atlanta University. I needed 6 hours for a masters, but I left there before I completed it. I went to

Lockheed. I got into the engineering firm, and we built the C-5. We had Georgia Tech professors that

would come and teach us certain things about what to do on the plane, and I got an associate aircraft

engineering degree. I then moved to computer operations and programming for two years. I worked on

computers for the C-5 that were as large as a door. I did that for a year, then I left Lockheed in ‘71 and

went back into teaching. I retired in ‘06.

I’ve been tutoring for Homework Hotline since 2000, so fourteen years.

· What type of questions do you get the most, what subject and specifically what questions?

Right now, most of them are in fractions, decimals, percentages, linear equations, and slopes or lines.

Every now and then, we’ll get something on probability. Now, we used to get a lot of questions in the

upper math or second year algebra — conic sections and so forth. What happened was we started out

just tutoring APS students, but then we went to Washington and got a website and an award, so we

went nationwide. We get calls from all over the United States — even Hawaii. Right now, we’re getting a

lot of calls from younger elementary aged students, but we get a lot from middle school and some high

school too. But the trend lately is that we get calls from everywhere across the country.

· What makes you want to tutor for HH?

Well, in 1999, my daughter graduated from high school, and I needed an extra job. I never did have any

problem teaching school. A lot of students at my school would come to me during lunchtime for help

from other classes, and I saw the opportunity to help.

· Do you feel you are making a difference and why?

Well, I do. I do. There are some kids that call back on a regular basis. In other words, if you call and you

need an answer to a question, you get an answer. If you want to call back ten times later that night,

too, you can do so. I have had several kids graduate, and a lot of their parents will call here to thank me

personally. One time, we had a parent come into Homework Hotline with a whole array of food to feed

us. She was just that grateful.

· Can you think of a good story of when you have really helped a student?

Yes, Kalina. I had a student who started out at Grady. All four years she called me, and I helped her. One

day, Mr. Clifford had the woman in charge of HH at the time talk to us saying she wanted to get a picture

done before we went to Washington. I told her what young lady I could think of that I helped every day

from 9th grade all the way through 12th, and it was her, Kalina. I think Kalina is about ready to graduate

from college now.

· How would you improve the HH program?

Informational magnets. We used to make them and disperse them in the schools. They’d have

Homework Hotline’s hours and number, and parents could put them on the refrigerator. But we’ve lost

a few sponsors. Georgia Tech has been associated with us for the last eight years, but we haven’t any of

their student tutors come by to help us answer math questions this year. I’m not sure what happened.

We miss a lot of calls now if we get a flow of questions. Sometimes we can handle them. Mr. Wright is

certified up until 7th grade, and he can handle the elementary questions. And we can call them back,

too, but sometimes we miss students.

· What subject do you teach?

I teach spanish. Actually, I’m a PE teacher, but what I do here is teach spanish because I’m a certified

spanish and PE teacher.

· How long have you been tutoring for HH? What is your teaching background?

I’ve been at Homework Hotline since 2008, which is six years now. I’ve been in the public school system

as a teacher since 2000, so that’s 14 years. I initially went in looking for a job in PE, but they told me, no,

we need spanish teachers — I’m Colombian, I’m a native speaker, so I took the tests and got certified to

teach spanish. I taught spanish for eight years before deciding it was time to move on to teaching what

I got a bachelors in, which was PE. I’ve continued to help with spanish, though, and I’m doing spanish

here at Homework Hotline.

· What type of questions do you get the most, what subject and specifically what questions?

Well, first of all, spanish tutoring is essentially like language arts. I have to go over everything from

sentence structure to vocabulary to reading comprehension. If you took spanish, then you know — you

struggled with verb conjugation and all of that.

We get phone calls from everywhere now. It’s not just APS, it’s nationwide. I’ve gotten a call from a

college student from the University of Tennessee who wanted help with her spanish homework. Cause,

I mean, all you’ve gotta do is google homework help and spanish, and our number pops up. I had a

student who’s graduated now, but two years ago she used to call me every day and ask me questions

about reading comprehension.

I get questions from parents, too. Some parents don’t speak any english at all, and they call here. They

struggle with the kids at home and their kid’s homework. They want to help, but they can’t, and they

want the kids to explain it to them, and the kids can’t. More than once, parents have called me who

can’t even read English, so I’ve had them give me words letter by letter. When I have it all, I translate,

and say, “okay, this is what you have to do,” and we go from there.

· What makes you want to tutor for HH?

What made me want to tutor? APS offered it to me, and I’ve found that being here is a big help for

students. I think APS cares for their students, and not just the students, the parents too. The parents

want to help, but a lot of times they don’t know how. When they call me, I can help them. I can make

them feel more comfortable.

· Do you feel you are making a difference and why?

Definitely. APS takes care of their parents and students. The spanish speaking population in Atlanta

knows there’s someone here that can help them.

· Can you think of a good story of when you have really helped a student?

Well... there are a lot of things that happen. Something that makes me feel happy about what we’re

doing at Homework Hotline is when the parents and students show how grateful they are for this

program. “Oh, thank you! I didn’t know how to do this,” or, “Thank you! I didn’t know how.” You know,

you can really feel that gratitude. I know I’ve made them happy. But more specifically, the best stories

of how I know I’m making a difference are when parents call in and they have to spell to me letter by

letter. I’m able to tell them what they’re looking at and what they have to do.

· How would you improve the HH program?

Well, the good thing is we’re getting new computers. That’s great. Before, people would call in and

you’d have to say, “Oh! Wait a minute, hold on. Sorry, my computer just got slow.” So the computers

are going to be a great resource.

We’ve also been trying to do real time communication, you know, like Skyping. Face to face

communication. It might be good, it might be great, but it’s not going to help everyone. Not every

parent has a computer. If they did have a computer, we could tell them, you know, get on Google, do

this search. But not every parent has that, so we have to find a way to work around it.

· What subject do you teach?

I teach language arts.

· How long have you been tutoring for HH? What is your teaching background?

I’ve been tutoring for about four years. My background is language arts and mass communication; I’ve

taught those subjects for 16 years.

· What type of questions do you get the most, what subject and specifically what questions?

The questions are typically about grammar and writing. Sometimes I get reading comprehension and

vocabulary questions, but most questions are about grammar. I get parts of speech questions from

elementary school kids. Middle school is sentence structure, parts of the sentence, and paragraphing.

Then, of course, for high school kids they’re working on papers they need help with, so I’ll get research

questions.

· What makes you want to tutor for HH?

Obviously it’s a job, and the extra pay is nice, but I also find that when I’m tutoring kids, working with

them one on one, I have a better chance of reaching them. It’s more beneficial than being in a class of

thirty-something students. The individual attention is nice. I also like the ability to help students I don’t

see every day.

· Do you feel you are making a difference and why?

Yeah, mostly I do. The kids always thank you for helping them understand what they’re working on,

or they’ll call back in and say they got good grades on assignments. You also get students who you’ve

helped on one assignment who continue to call back, either every day, every week, or every year. I’ve

had students that I’ve helped in from 10th grade all the way up until they graduate. It makes me feel like

I’m making a difference, knowing they stay with me the entire time.

· Can you think of a good story of when you have really helped a student?

Well, right now I have a student that calls from New York. He calls at least three or four times a week,

and we’re only here four days. He has said that over the years of working with him, his writing has

improved a lot. He thanks me and says I’m his best teacher. And I say, “You know, I’m not really your

teacher, I’m just a tutor.” But over the years I’ve worked with him, I’ve been able to improve his writing

immensely, because he is an ESOL student.

· How would you improve the HH program?

Well, I think one problem that we run into is that if we start late, like in October, (we usually

start in September) then kids think that we’re not here, and so those kids stop calling. I think we

need more advertising, basic public relations. We need more magnets that we can pass out in

classrooms so the kids can take home and put on their refrigerator to remind them that they can

call Homework Hotline. The kids forget they can still call. I have a few magnets on my board at

school, and I’ll tell them, “Okay, I’m going to Homework Hotline today!” And they’ll say, “That

still exists?” Yes, it’s still here, but you don’t know it because I don’t have something to show

you, something to put in your hand, to say that it’s still here. I would just say getting the word out

more would help a lot.

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Other Homework Help Sites

Khan Academy
First in Math
Sumdog
Ask Dr. Math

Other Resources

American Graduate Atlanta
PBS Kids
PBS LearningMedia