Mustard seeds may be tiny, but they can pack quite a wallop when it comes to flavor. They can also grow up to ten feet tall in a few months.
Freshman Gabby Tobin has the faith of a mustard seed, which is why she named her educationally focused service organization 40 Mustard Seeds.
“When I was ten, my mom told me that I didn’t need any money or donations to help anybody,” Gabby said when I interviewed her after school one day. Her mother cited biblical scripture, Matthew 17:20, where Jesus said, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
As for the “40”? It also has a significant meaning behind it. The “40” signifies how Gabby raised $4,000 dollars and got 40 tutors for community service.
Her slogan, “Inspiration through multiplication,” reflects Gabby’s own inspiration as well as her desire to help people in math.
When Gabby was ten, her parents asked her what she wanted for her birthday. “And I couldn’t think of anything I wanted,” Gabby told me. Her parents then suggested that she could do some community service in the form of donations.
Since Gabby didn’t have any money, she decided to ask for monetary donations and school supplies instead of asking for birthday gifts.
Gabby began this organization after she started her gold award project for girl scouts. “I always wanted to start my own organization because of my community service history.” Gabby has done community service in various places since she was 10 years old.
Gabby started this particular organization about three months ago. One of her goals “is to donate tools in the form of school supplies, and tutoring in the form of videos.” She hopes to expand 40 Mustard Seeds by expanding her tutoring program for 7th and 8th graders, instead of just 6th graders.
Her tutorial videos are about the basic fundamentals of 6th-grade math. She came up with the idea because once COVID started limiting things, she couldn't have a birthday party anymore to raise money and donations. “So,” she told me, “myself and seven others came up with the idea of virtual math tutoring videos, so I could still connect with the students, even if it’s virtually.”
She wants to help schools across the country as her long-term goal, but her short-term goal is to help the public schools and Title one schools in Cobb County. She also wanted to provide more tools for high school students.
“I believe that math is the basic fundamentals of learning,” Gabby said. “Public schools and Title one schools have a low math proficiency rate, and that is what made me want to help in the first place.”
Gabby wants to provide math tutoring videos because of how expensive tutoring is. “I want to focus on middle school math because that is where everything starts off and I hope that after my videos, math proficiency rates will be higher.” According to Gabby, the math proficiency rates are lower in Georgia in comparison to other states.
Gabby donates her tutoring videos to Lindley 6th grade Academy, a school in the Bahamas, as well as to a school in North Carolina, Breakthrough Atlanta, and Breakthrough San Francisco.
Once Gabby finishes her drawing, she will be able to donate some tools and create more tutoring videos. She wants to use this organization to expand her girl scout’s gold award to go for the national award.
Gabby has made some impressive personal connections through this organization. She has gotten to know the Mayor of Smyrna, Derek Norton, as well as various Georgia councilmen and congressmen.
Gabby was recognized by various news channels including WSB TV, FOX 5, Good Morning America, and Georgia Game Changers. She was also featured on the Lovett instagram page a couple of times.
Despite all of this recognition, Gabby still remains humble and true to her original goal. “I was excited of course, but it wasn't really supposed to be about the recognition. I was just a little girl doing what she loved and giving back to the community.”
If Gabby could go back in time and tell her 10-year-old self one thing, she would tell herself that she was really selfless for giving up birthday gifts. Also, “I would tell myself that this was a really good idea because you became one of the youngest to receive a gold award. [You will be] a young woman of distinction. [Also, you’ll be the] first person to go up against so many gold award projects in a national competition.”
All of this begs the question, what can we, members of the Lovett community, do to help this cause. Gabby would love to have more volunteers to create more videos to help tutor more students. Also, it would be a big help to donate to the public and title one schools, because they really need and appreciate all the help that they can get.