The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Hazel Hill Homework Club brings UMW student tutors to local community

3 min read
Elementary school children doing homework in a classroom.

The Hazel Hill Homework Club is a collaboration between UMW and the National Housing Trust, providing tutors to the local community. | CDC, Unsplash


Staff Writer

The Hazel Hill Homework Club, a partnership formed in 2012 between the UMW College of Education and the National Housing Trust, is currently seeking UMW student volunteers to help tutor children in the community.

Since the program started in 2012, over 500 UMW students have volunteered, according to Alexis Rutt, the UMW director of the Hazel Hill Homework Club and assistant professor of science education. The students volunteer throughout the week in the Hazel Hill Apartments, located on Princess Anne Street in downtown Fredericksburg.

“It’s such a cool opportunity for our students to get involved in the community in a way that’s really relational and in a way that works with the future of the community,” said Rutt. 

Senior elementary education major Taylor Grigsby was placed in this club to fulfill her practicum education requirement.

“It was definitely different for me because you don’t really have a mentor teacher,” she said. “You’re not working in a specific grade level, you’re working with so many different other kids. But the experience is just amazing because you’re getting so many different minds and people all in one classroom, and you can really help them personally.” 

Senior special education major Katya Stafira has also volunteered.

“Being a volunteer is a little crazy, but it is really fun because you kind of get to go in and just be like the fun tutor for the kids,” she said. “Seeing those kids really succeed and progress just through their homework is amazing.”

The club is open to all residents within the apartment community and mainly serves students from first to seventh grades. 

“Being able to be together in a community of people who are just like them because a lot of the students in the program are Afghan and all get along in that way. They understand each other culturally,” said Stafira.

Though the idea of being a tutor was daunting at first to Stafira, it’s not as hard as it may seem, and people outside of the education program can volunteer as well.

“A lot of the homework is just writing on the paper; it’s pretty simple to figure out,” she said. “People who aren’t in education would have a really good time and it is a really great experience to give to the kids.”

The club began in 2012 when the Hazel Hill Apartments, located in downtown Fredericksburg and owned by the National Housing Trust, reached out to UMW’s College of Education and Community Outreach and Resources in search of a partnership. This partnership aimed to join college students with the community to help elementary and middle school students at Fredericksburg City Public Schools with their education. John Broome, former associate professor of education, agreed to manage the program and serve as the liaison between Hazel Hill and the university, and Rutt is now the UMW director of the club.  

Anaïs Malangu, the resident services coordinator at Hazel Hill Apartments, oversees the club as well.

“My focus is to make sure that the student-to-tutor ratio is small enough for each kid to be able to get the attention they need,” said Malangu. “I try to avoid having, for example, one tutor for seven students. If I could get one tutor for five students, that’s great because they’re able to help each other.”

Malangu, a UMW class of 2022 alum, is part of the National Housing Trust community outreach and impact team. “Our team focuses on residents’ success,” said Malangu. “As far as homework club goes, that encompasses community building and resident leadership.”

The community outreach and impact team supports residents in various ways, such as helping children in the community access resources like notebooks, textbooks, markers and even tutors.

“One of the really cool things about NHT is certainly looking at affordable housing, but they are also interested in supporting residents,” said Rutt. “It is not just giving them a place to live, but helping them in developing in many different ways. And one of those ways they do that is providing support for our Fredericksburg City Public School students.”

The club is still looking for people to volunteer for this semester. Anyone who is interested in signing up should reach out to Rutt at or Malangu at