How to create a lasting impact without even trying

If you ask me why I choose to be a volunteer tutor with the children of MPS it would be an impossibility to narrow the limitless number of responses that could be given. The children of this city, simply put, are the greatest product we have to offer to the future.

They are the embodiment of all of the hopes and dreams they aspire to and that we wish for them. They are our future which we all need to make a consistent and meaningful commitment to.

There is nothing more powerful then witnessing the “ah ha” moment when the light of knowledge and comprehension goes off in a child’s eyes. Suddenly a world of possibilities has been open to a student that didn’t existed a second before.

Selfishly, you as a tutor are there to witness that miracle and know you had a role in it. Knowing that an adult from the community gives of themselves is an amazing gift for students to receive. Students sense the commitment and care from the tutor and respond in kind.

Volunteer tutoring is a two way street. For what you give as a tutor, you receive back tenfold from the students you work with.

One tutor was working with a little boy who was having difficulty focusing and making good choices. But, he had his tutor all to himself. This tutor quietly and consistently modeled patience, good choices and a love for
learning along with the tutoring.

Within two weeks, the student’s teacher shared that this student started to make good choices the day “his” tutor friend was coming and within two additional weeks, the improvement had extended to the day before and the day after.

Eventually, he was making good choices based on what his tutor had modeled for him all school week. At the end of the school year, this young student wrote a note to his parents describing what his tutor had done helping him to achieve. The tutor was amazed that he had that kind of impact on this child. All this for just 90 minutes a week of his time.

So instead of why do you choose to tutor, my response would be why not? You don’t have to have a Ph.D. The basic ingredient is caring. You don’t know what you are missing until you step into that role.

As a certain sports slogan exhorts, “Just do it!”

See you in an MPS classroom fall 2012.

This commentary is published on the occasion of MPS Children’s Week. To learn more, visit

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