Ashley Cabrera, 9, thinks through a math problem with the help of tutor Aleesya Jasmi. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Ashley Cabrera, 9, thinks through a math problem with the help of tutor Aleesya Jasmi. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Heavy interest spurs free tutoring through summer in Everett

Connect Casino Road and House of Wisdom host two one-hour weekly sessions for K-12 students every Thursday.

EVERETT — Ashley Cabrera, 9, needed help solving division problems.

She has been one of about 30 students from kindergarten through 12th grade who have attended Connect Casino Road’s new weekly free tutoring sessions since the program started in May.

The third grader at Horizon Elementary School found the writing guidance useful. She really liked getting help with her homework and was glad to return, Ashley said.

During a recent visit, some students brought printed homework sheets. Tutors wrote math problems for a few who didn’t have teacher-supplied assignments for them to work through together.

It’s been popular as word has spread. There was a waitlist for one of the 40 spots in the program, assistant director Jillian Robinson said.

Even though school is out for summer break, enough families were interested in getting help for their kids that the program is extending through July and August.

“This is something the community had requested probably for years,” said Connect Casino Road Director Alvaro Guillen.

Aranzasu Hernandez Santos, 10 (left), and Kevin Ramirez, 9, laugh with tutor Travis Lee. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Aranzasu Hernandez Santos, 10 (left), and Kevin Ramirez, 9, laugh with tutor Travis Lee. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Connect Casino Road, the community-building nonprofit in south Everett, hosts the two one-hour sessions in its classrooms at 14 E Casino Road.

Private tutoring can often be expensive. That can be an ill-afforded cost for some families in the area, where poverty is higher than other parts of the county and many immigrant families live.

Most of the schools near Casino Road are in the Mukilteo School District. About a quarter of the district’s students were English language learners and more than 56% came from families with low incomes in the 2021-22 school year, according to state data.

“This isn’t something that we as a school district, that they as families, can do in isolation,” said Mary Williams, the district’s director of equity, family and community partnerships.

House of Wisdom sends tutors, many of whom are students at Edmonds College, to programs at the college, in Lynnwood and now Everett. Many of the tutors speak multiple languages, founder Ahmad Abid said.

In exchange, tutors get a stipend for their time and travel, plus it bolsters resumes for students applying to four-year schools, graduate programs or jobs, Abid said.

Travis Lee (left) helps a student through a math worksheet. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Travis Lee (left) helps a student through a math worksheet. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

He emigrated from Afghanistan in 2018 and graduated from Edmonds College, where he still feels connected. Abid had to learn English as a teenager and young adult, and remembers the difficulty of trying to learn without a complete grasp of his teachers’ language.

That experience spurred him to found House of Wisdom. Its tutoring program tries to provide one-on-one help, Abid said.

Most of the families Connect Casino Road works with speak Spanish as their native language, Guillen said.

Keeping academic skills sharp and trying to catch up on basics are important, especially for younger children when literacy skills are critical indicators for future success, said Matt Gehrman, Mukilteo School District’s director of curriculum and instruction.

“All of our kids need to benefit from discourse — social discourse, academic discourse,” he said. “If you have a book, read it to them. If you don’t, tell a story, talk to them.”

The Mukilteo School District offers summer school for all grades, as well as multilingual learning.

Mateo Vasquez reads aloud to a tutor. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mateo Vasquez reads aloud to a tutor. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Beyond language and math, positive experiences through summer are also important for connection, Gehrman said. That can mean bonding with other students, tutors and others involved in summer programs through the district, Connect Casino Road and elsewhere, Guillen said.

“We are keenly aware that being proactive in addressing early childhood needs is hugely important to academic success,” Williams said.

Sign up

Families interested in signing up a student for free tutoring at Connect Casino Road can call the office at 425-610-3856 or email Robinson at

The Mukilteo School District’s kindergarten registration is open online or forms are available 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays at the elementary schools.

The district has planned its Back 2 School Fair from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at Mariner High School, where families in any grade from kindergarten through high school can get free school supplies, sign up for free and reduced lunch, have students get sports physicals and immunizations, and connect with community organizations for further programs, services and support.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037;; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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