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Keri Mathis Front Runners K-12 Tutor & Mentor

April 05, 2018

Keri Mathis discovered the Backside Learning Center while teaching a non-profit writing class at UofL. In February of 2017 she began volunteering at the Front Runners Program where she quickly connected with the students.

"I love working with the children - they are eager, inquisitive, and caring."

Keri also volunteered as an in-home tutor over the summer. Now a PhD student in English she continues to work with our younger students to improve their reading and writing skills.

"Reading with them is always the highlight of my week, and I love seeing their literacy skills develop over our time together."

We are lucky to have great volunteers like Keri who are making a difference in the lives of backside families.

Samantha Carlisle, Front Runners K-12 Tutor & Mentor

March 01, 2018

Front Runners volunteer Samantha Carlisle started at the BLC as an In-Home Tutor in the summer of 2017. Samantha volunteered an hour a week during the summer to helping Front Runners participant and third grader, Yasleni develop her reading skills. 


Samantha has since become a K-12 tutor at the Front Runners program. Primarily working with our second grade students, she says she loves watching them improve in reading and math along with gaining confidence.


"I immediately fell in love with all of the kids. They are so  bright, kindhearted, and hard working. I always leave the Front Runners program happier than when I entered!"

Outside of the BLC, Samantha is a scientist and PhD student at UofL working on breast cancer research and enjoys mountain biking and hiking in her free time. 

Jacob Holtegrewe, Front Runners, K-12 Tutor & Mentor

February 06, 2018

Dedicated Front Runners volunteer and UofL student, Jacob Holtgrewe joined the BLC team in September 2017. 

Once a week, Jacob donates his time to helping the children of equine workers be successful in their academic and social development. Jacob  works with first grade student, Raul. Along with his calm and fun personality, Jacob brings his knowledge of  biology to his tutoring sessions with Raul. 

"It's very cool to see what he's interested in, which as of late has been animals. I've been studying insect and vertebrate anatomy, so it's very fulfilling to see such a budding coming from the young man."

It has been great seeing Jacob's knowledge in biology fuel Raul's interest in animals. 

We are grateful to have volunteers like Jacob, who come from different backgrounds and fields of study and can introduce our students to new ideas and interests.

Kevin McKinney, Front Runners, K-12 Tutor & Mentor

January 05, 2018

UPS employee, Kevin McKinney started volunteering with us in the fall of 2016 as a K-12 tutor in the Front Runners Program. Kevin's dedicated, compassionate, and lighthearted personality quickly helped him develop a strong bond with one of our Front Runners participants, Antoni. 

Kevin has been working one-on-one with Antoni every Tuesday and Thursday to help develop his reading skills. His dedication goes beyond the two days a week he comes to the program. This winter, Kevin continued to work with Antoni while the program is out for winter break. 

"Currently, I'm helping Antoni grow in his reading skills and I'm super proud of his hard work and dedication."

After working with Kevin, Antoni's reading skills have noticeably improved along with his confidence! It's committed volunteers like Kevin who help expand our Front Runners Program and positively impact the community!

Patrick Trainor, Front Runners, K-12 Tutor & Mentor

July 31, 2017

Our volunteers make a great difference in the lives of our students.This month we want to recognize volunteer Patrick Trainor whose involvement  in our programs is proof of the positive impact volunteering can make in a community. 

Patrick began volunteering as a tutor for the Family Education Program in February. His kindness and positivity quickly won our kids over. By the end of the program Patrick had cultivated strong relationships with our FEP youth and parents alike. 

After the final session of the Family Education Program, Patrick gave his time to our English-as-a-Second-Language Program. He has volunteered for every cycle of English classes starting out as an Assistant Instructor and moving into the Lead Instructor position soon after. 

In addition to volunteering for our ESL Program this summer, Patrick has also dedicated his time to our our Summer FEP camps and In-Home Summer Tutoring Program. 

Outside of being a dedicated BLC volunteer and positive role model for our BLC youth participants, Patrick is also a scientist and PhD student at UofL.  

Joanna Lowry, English Language Instructor

September 08, 2017

In 2016, the BLC gained one of its most dedicated volunteers- Joanna Lowry.  Joanna began as an ESL Instructor and has since taught almost every level of ESL at the BLC and volunteered as a Family Education Program tutor. Her love for our organization and our students is unmistakable, and her kindness has helped many of our students in the adult ESL program thrive!

This year, she is teaching Advanced ESL. Her class has focused on advanced reading and writing skills; they take on more rigorous ESL assignments such as creative writing and higher level reading comprehension. 

Joanna's class is among one of the most highly attended ESL classes at the Center, and her students some of the most motivated and dedicated to learning English. 

Joanna is a leader in the volunteer program, a dedicated supporter of the BLC, and an advocate for our students. Outside of being a dedicated BLC volunteer, Joanna works for Humana and enjoys going to the gym, reading, shopping, eating and spending time with her son.

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