Memphis is full of emerging leaders who are passionate, talented, and equipped to lead our city to continued excellence in the years to come. Melanie Hawkins and Shenay Nolan are definitely examples of those leaders. The native Memphians partnered together to found “Two Girls Tutoring,” an organization that provides educational resources to students K-5. Teach901 had the pleasure of interviewing Melanie and Shenay to gather information on life experiences and everything that went into founding such an amazing organization.
Check it out!
Who founded Two Girls Tutoring?
Melanie: Shenay and I founded Two Girls Tutoring. I came up with the name because we struggled with figuring out a name for weeks!
Where are you from? Tell us about you.
Melanie: I was born and raised in Memphis. I went to New Hope Christian Academy for Elementary School, Harding Academy for high school. I received my undergrad degree in English Literature from Christian Brothers University and my Masters in Journalism from The University of Memphis. Shenay and I actually met in grad school.
Shenay: I was born and raised in Memphis. I attended several schools in Whitehaven and East Memphis but I graduated from Hillcrest High School. I received my undergraduate degree in Mass Communication from Middle Tennessee State University and my Masters in Liberal Studies from The University of Memphis.
How did you come up with the idea for the organization? How did it begin?
Melanie: We actually came up with the idea during brunch! I always get my worst or best ideas during brunch. We were talking with a friend about how a lot of millennials are doing side hustles and starting these businesses based off of things that they enjoy (photography, baking, etc.) Shenay and I started discussing ways that we could use our talents (AND DEGREES) to give back to the community. It was one of those conversations when you’re just like “wouldn’t it be cool if THIS existed” and then you just kind of have that “lightbulb” moment of “Why not us?” We knew that literacy was being emphasized in schools so we started brainstorming ways of how we could help.
Who is the program for?
Melanie: We’re starting off tutoring kids in grades K-5. And for now we’re focusing on Literacy, Reading and English. We hope to expand in the future.
What are your future plans for TGT?
Melanie: We hope to open a literacy center within the next few years. Hire more tutors. Expand to where we can help high school students with ACT/SAT prep and prepare them for college writing.
Are you/ were you teachers?
Melanie: I taught english composition at Christian Brothers University for a semester. I was also a substitute teacher at one of the St. George’s campuses.
I’m not a teacher but I have worked in Higher Education for five and half years. All of my experience has been in Admissions and Recruitment. I currently work for The University of Tennessee-Knoxville in the Memphis office.
Where are you located?
Melanie: At the moment, we’re planning on meeting with students at the Memphis Public Library. But we also offer virtual tutoring sessions.
What makes you passionate about tutoring?
Melanie: I think something that’s great about tutoring is that you can really build that one on one relationship with students. You can really tailor assignments and exercises to how they learn and those benefits will be seen when they return to the classroom. I think something kind of great about this whole journey is that Shenay and I have had this idea in the back of our heads for almost a year! So to see people kind of reach out to us within the last couple of months, asking us how they can spread the word or how they can help-a couple of days ago one of our former professors asked us if we needed any supplies or money- has been really encouraging. The fact that people really believe that we can do this and more importantly, that this is needed has kept us going. Also, I know there is a need in Shelby County to improve literacy.