Podolsk City Orphanage

Report on ROOF’s Work in Podolsk Orphanage in the 2016-2017 School Year

Program Manager: Ludmila Rymyansteva

Podolsk orphanage was opened in 1996 because of the increasing number of social orphans in Russia. When ROOF began working at Podol’sk in 1999, the orphanage was home to around 30 children. Some years numbers were significantly higher, but in 2017 there are 28 children in the orphanage.

Like all orphans, what all these children are lacking is indivdual attention and parents’ love, therefore the children at Podol’sk Orphanage are considered to be in a high risk group. ROOF’s team at Podol’sk aim to establish long-term, trusting relationships with the children, as well as improving their general educational level, thinking skills and socialization. ROOF teachers concentrate on any school subjects where the children need help and support, and also place great emphasis on the individual interests of children, which has, upon occasion, led to the addition of activities classes such as phys ed, music workshops, art lessons, sewing, home-ecomonics (skills for later independent life) and computer.

During 2016-17, ROOF tutors primarily helped the children in Podolsk when they had questions and problems with their homework. This year there were 28 children in the orphanage and we worked intensively with 14 of them. Our pupils were in the following classes:

4 children in grade 8
3 children in grade 7
2 children in grade 6
1 child in grade 5
2 children in grade 4
2 children in grade 3

Tutorials are led by teachers with a great deal of experience, all of whom have taught in local schools for some years. In fact, most of our team have been working with ROOF for more than 15 years already, and they know their jobs well^

  • Ludmila Rumyansteva teaches Russian Language and Literature every day from 14:00-16:00
  • Nikolai Glushkov tutors in Mathematics and Physics every day from 15:00-17:00
  • Yuri Grablev runs daily Computer Literacy lessons for three groups: primary school, 5th-7th grade and 8th grade
  • Rosa Sirotkina is our teacher of English, and she works primarily with our 3rd and 4th graders, who find foreign language study complicated.

The girls in 2nd and 3rd grade really like to “play” school with our teachers, pretending that THEY are the teachers, writing on the blackboard, and giving marks to each other and to our teachers for their work.

There are children this year, who with the help of ROOF teachers, have achieved very good results, though in school they are in grade levels slightly lower than their age would dictate. We would like particularly to commend Vadim (in grade 4, should be in grade 6 for his age). Vadim has made tremendous progress in Russian Languages this year, and is now able to confidently complete morphological, phonetic, syntactic and other exercises, and even have fun doing it, because he has learned recently how to work things out for himself. Way to go Vadim!

Another honourable mention is Lyuba, from grade 7, who is learning how to read poetry very beautifully. She first attempts to memorize school-assigned poetry herself, and then waits for our teachers to drill her, give her pointers and refine her style.

Physics is hard for all our students. Some of our 8th grade students have missed quite a bit of preparatory material that is necessary for quality study, and come to Mr. Glushkov for much needed help. Even so, it is often difficult for some of our students to keep up their optimism about this difficult subject…

Anna and Liza, in 3rd and 4th grade respectively, enjoy studying Mathematics with Mr. Glushkov, but general only score 3 out of 5 on their school tests.

Our two 6th graders go to school in the second half of the day and have difficulty with a number of their subjects, meaning that our teachers often come to them while they are in school to help them through the material they must learn.

Most our our pupils are getting 3s and 4s (on a 5-point scale). This year we have also had to arbitrate in some conflict situtions, mostly amongst our 8th graders, who sometimes refuse point blank to do their school work, saying “I don’t mind if I fail”. As any parent knows, this is such a hard situation to be in! Of course we don’t want them to fail, and sometimes we end up propping them up in their work…completing portions of the work together with them and even for them – we know they should know how by now, but attitude problems can be so difficult to get through, and finding the right balance is hard. Sometimes it’s just important for them to know they have our support, both emotional and intellectual, and that “we won’t let them down.”

All in all, the children we are working with at this time are absolutely able, but somehow only come through when an supporting adult is sitting beside them. This is especially true when there are large gaps in required base knowledge, such as in the case of one of our students from class 6b, whose knowledge level is really more that of a 3rd grader. He himself feels uncomfortable – especially in school, and it is too easy for him to turn spiteful because of this. He wants to do well, but he’s got so many knowledge gaps! Nevertheless he finished this year with 3s, that is, with low pass marks.