10 Country: Charlie's Natural Teaching Ability - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Charlie's Natural Teaching Ability

June 26, 2007 

Ben Hill Co.--  Most young people don't even like to think about going back to school, preferring to enjoy their summer vacation without the thoughts of text books and homework.

But, a young lady who likes learning so much that she gives up part of her summer vacation to help older students improve their standardized test scores.

Some students don't want to visit a school, much less go back to class in the summer, but Charlie Smart does.

 "I'm a tutor," says Charlie as she walks with confidence and purpose through the main doors of the Ben Hill County Elementary School.

 The students treat like a rock star shouting, "Hey, Charlie," when she appears at the classroom's door.

 "I'm not like other nine year-olds," says Charlie just before she provides one-on-one aid to summer school students who need a little more time to understand math, to improve their standardized test score.

She aces those tests and volunteers to help older students catch up with their academic work.

An unusually sensitive young person who sees the long term consequences of poor academic performance that would be hard to erase. "If you don't pass the fifth grade then you'll never know what the 10th grade or the 12th grade is going to feel like," says Charlie with obvious concern in her voice.

She makes sure no child gets left behind. "They really need help with math the most," says Charlie about one of her favorite subjects she enjoys explaining.

"I don't know much about dividing. She knows a lot about it," says Deonte Milline, a 10-year-old student who needs helps with fractions.

The students notice her gentleness.  "She won't be rude to us," says Michael Wilson, 10, who needs help with multiplication and division.

Veteran teachers see more than a nine year-old wannabe. "She has an authoritative sense about herself. She can tell children what they need to know and kind of demand them to listen to her," says Theresa Hampton who welcomes Charlie's help.

"She helps me by checking their work, freeing me up to help other students," says Theresa.

"She would help students in other classes who were struggling with things; able to explain it when the teacher can't," says Cheryl Cotherman, who taught Charlie last school year and a 25-year teaching veteran who recommended Charlie to help summer school students.

How does she know so much at such a young age? She credits her parents with emphasizing the need for a solid education, plus she really enjoys learning and when her classmates go on vacation or go swimming, she continues to study.

"I'm not ashamed to be a book worm," says Charlie with a smile and she's not ashamed of her career choice.

"A teacher," says Charlie who already knows her classroom philosophy.

"Treat people like you want to be treated," says the nine year-old.

She treats students that way already, and already knows her life-long career involves helping people. "If I don't help people, then I don't have anything to live for" says Charlie.

While students seem to live for the end of school, Charlie hopes it never ends for her.