LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Michelle Bailow

Position: Tutor Connection Supervisor
School: San Diego County Office of Education
School District: San Diego County Office of Education
City, State: San Diego, CA

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Michelle Bailow was nominated by her spouse, Jason Bailow.

Mrs. Bailow is always on the move, and her phone never stops buzzing. As Tutor Connection program supervisor for the San Diego County Office of Education, Mrs. Bailow has nearly 250 college students and just as many children in foster care who rely on her. She wouldn’t have it any other way because she knows the work is benefiting future teachers and the county’s most vulnerable students.

Tutor Connection is a community-based program that pairs university students with youth in San Diego County foster care and offer one-on-one tutoring for free. The program is a service learning component of some sections of an upper-division education class at Cal State San Marcos and San Diego State University. The students at these universities make up the majority of the tutors. All students participating in the program must complete 20 hrs. of tutoring.

Mrs. Bailow has managed the program for about 13 years, and her tutors say she is the glue holding it all together. She takes referrals from social workers, schools, and SDCOE educational liaisons and helps coordinate schedules. Mrs. Bailow assists new tutors in completing their fingerprinting and background check process. She also lectures in numerous sections of Education 364: Diversity, Ethnicity, and Schooling, and teaching tutors about the child welfare system.

Mrs. Bailow has to sell the program to education professors who may be reluctant to incorporate Tutor Connection into their Education 364 sections. Since the implementation of Tutor Connection, more than 2,300 university students have provided life-changing assistance to 3,000 students in foster care.

She also acts as a liaison between Foster Youth Services Program and schools, districts, parents, caregivers, educational rights holders, group homes, placing agencies, Health and Human Services Agency, Child Welfare Services and many others. 

"Mrs. Bailow demonstrates leadership and commitment by providing information with respect to program priorities and planned activities," said Jason. "She is responsible for organizing meetings with group homes and current tutors by setting meeting dates, coordinating participation, and preparing and distributing meeting materials."