Meet SmartStart Tutor Ronika Bates

Ronika Bates began working for SmartStart Education in January 2023. Currently she is tutoring second graders at Abbottston Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland. She has a degree in English and has been tutoring for over seven years.


Prior being in education, Bates worked in hospitality and property management. 

She said she initially she had no desire to work in education until she took a position teaching an art enrichment course as part of an after-school program. Her friends encouraged her to become a paraeducator which led to her enjoyment of teaching. “I do not wish to be anywhere else. I love to walk alongside the students I tutor and to offer encouragement. It brings my heart joy to embolden them to realize that they have it in them to excel,” she said.

Greatest Teaching Challenge:

For Bates, the most challenging part of teaching is dealing with behavior problems. “These beautiful souls want to play, dance and run around during tutoring sessions,” she said. To gain order, she allowed her students to help establish rules for each tutoring session and together they determined what the consequences would be should they break those rules. She rewards them by allowing for a two-to-three-minute dance break at the end of the session if they complete their work and have takeaways from the lesson. “All of the behavior issues are not totally solved by utilizing this technique, but they have made great strides thus far,” she said.

Surprises and Successes:

Bates said what surprises her most about her students is their desire to get everything right. “They have tenacity and will power to want to really grasp what is in front of them. They will go out with a fight if they don’t get it,” she said. In addition, Bates said she enjoys their sense of humor and the jokes they like to tell during sessions. “They are hilarious and filled with joy.”

Bates believes the most important part of being a successful educator is to be understanding and offer encouragement. She bases her foundation for teaching from one of her favorite quotes by Anatole France which reads, “Wholeheartedly I believe encouragement goes into the soul of a person, especially a child, and when one feels uplifted, one is more excited to thrive in all areas.”

Why SmartStart:

Bates said she decided to continue her tutoring journey with SmartStart because everyone is dedicated to helping students on their academic journey. “I love that they place tutors with students that really need added help. They have a heart for others, and that is what I love most about SmartStart. I am glad to be a part of both SmartStart and the children’s lives at Abbottston,” she said.