Teen tutor develops Building Smart Kids program

FOX 26 News anchor Melinda Spaulding

- While many children spend their free time on social media or even at the mall, Sofia Ivanka has a different plan.  She spends her afternoons leading programs like the one at Reynolds Elementary School. It's all part of her non-profit organization Building Smart Kids. She can relate so well to the young students, because she is a still a teen herself.

"When I was 9 and 10, mostly 9, I was really good at math," says Sofia Ivanka. Her math skills were so good, that she wrote her own math book "Fourth Grade Math Rules." Years later, her math tutoring program for third, fourth and fifth grade students would evolve. "It's extremely important because children have the self esteem at that age, based on what they learn. If they do understand the subjects, if they do understand what's happening at school, they'll be happier and just have a better mood and be nicer to other kids."

Support from teachers, volunteers and ambassadors is critical for Building Smart Kids.

"Sofia used to tutor three of my students in my classroom," says Amesha Forward Gosey, a teacher at Parks Elementary in the Pasadena Independent School District and a Building Smart Kids ambassador. "And I just saw a change in those students from her working with them. Out of the those three students, two of them exceeded their expectations on their standardized tests and I'm like, 'Wow. how can I be a part of this?'"

And that's exactly what Building Smart Kids needs as it moves into it's next phase -- literature.

"I'm looking for more ambassadors and more tutors so that they can help us go to more schools and more school districts so they can help more children," says Ivanka.

If you'd like to volunteer or would like more information about the organization, visit http://buildingsmartkids.org/BSK/Home.html.

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