Seattle tutoring center poses as travel supply company

Greenwood tutoring center helps students with everything from college apps to science reports


Maia Wiseman

The Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. is a storefront for 826 tutoring center in Seattle. 826 helps with everything from science homework to college application essays.

By Ian Gwin, Ballard HS, Seattle

Near the corner of 85th and Greenwood you can buy a bottle of uncertainty for less than $10.  It is, of course, just a jar; its surrounding shop – the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company – isn’t just a novelty store, however. In truth it is a storefront funding 826 Seattle, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center.

Just take a trip through the store’s “atomic teleporter” into the 826 headquarters and you’ll see. A chapter of 826 National, 826 Seattle began student tutoring in 2005, and today provides reading and writing assistance for kids age six to 18.

Junior Melat Assefa has been visiting since she was in the 4th grade.

“I started going because I was having a hard time at school,” Assefa said. “My dad signed me up for writing classes. I met a lot of good tutors that gave a lot of advice.”

Assefa moved on from taking classes and getting tutored to volunteering and working with her teachers at the center. From one-on-one tutoring to catering at donor parties, Assefa says she has grown during her seven years involved with 826.

“I’ve met a lot of friends,” Assefa said. “There’s not a lot of [high school] kids who show up, but the same kids show up to get help.”

826 offers drop-in tutoring for high schoolers 6-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. In addition to tutoring for reading, writing, math, and the sciences, the organization also helps with SAT review on Wednesday evenings where students can get additional help with other aspects of the test from tutors.

“In the Fall, we also offer help with college essay writing, including a number of CEEM (College Entrance Essay Marathon) sessions, where students can come to a session held at a school or library and receive help on essays,” Program Coordinator Sue Sprang said.

CEEM has been held at the school almost every year its offered.  Counselor Julie Chapman worked with 826 to hold the program last fall in the library.

“[Students] were helped one on one by writing professionals from 826,” Chapman said.  “Our partnership [with 826] is valuable for students.  They’ve been super supportive with students here because they’re so close to the school… I hope to be able to do it next year.”

For non-college writing, 826 offers high schoolers a program called Open Studio, where most Saturdays from 4-6 pm, students can work on their writing. Tutors are available for students who need them.

“We provide computers and a quiet place to write, as well as some thematic writing workshops on themes like writing about music, letter-writing in literature, and National Novel Writing Month,” Sprang said. “Students may also have the opportunity to have their writing published, or to share their work in a number of public settings.”

In addition, all of the programs 826 offers to students are free.

Assefa currently holds 826’s internship, where among other things she tutors kids and helps edit the organization’s children’s writing anthology, 826 Seattle Writes the Rain.

“There’s a little boy who came from a different country. He came to 826 and was having a hard time [in school], so I gave him help,” Assefa said. “826 is good for helping other people who have problems like that.”

Assefa believes that, in addition to helping out others at 826, high schoolers can get it for themselves.  “Sometimes, if I have a problem at school and I can’t get help there. . . I go to 826.”

For more information about 826 Seattle, visit their website.

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