The end of the fall semester brought what my kids and their parents so often dread: report cards. Sometimes I wonder if our tutoring program is truly reaching these students, but so many brought our program news of tremendous academic results. While the children’s success cannot be measured by the same standards, a few kids’ stories were incredibly affirming that my volunteers are, indeed, changing lives.
One boy entered my program barely knowing how to read as a third grader. We assessed him and started him at kindergarten-level books, and I rapidly saw improvement. Within three months, the boy had moved up several levels. He could actually read his homework passages and comprehend the questions, and he was so proud of himself. One afternoon, I asked his mom to sit in on a tutoring session and listen to her son read. As he confidently began reading, his mom couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The boy read clearly and smoothly, and she almost burst into tears. When the session was over, she gave him a huge hug and high-five and exclaimed, “I am so proud of you, son!”
I had never seen him so proud of himself.
Another boy started my program as a first grader. He is an ESL student, and his mom enrolled him in Generation Great because he needed help with reading comprehension and pronunciation. His mom told me that the school was planning to hold him back a year, but within only two months in our program, his mom had a conference with his teacher, who said he was doing well and back on track.
This boy has an older brother, who also needed help with reading comprehension. He’s always been a strong student but was struggling with reading comprehension. I just heard from his mother that he received “gold honor roll” this semester — the highest level of academic achievement possible! His mom was thrilled.
Lastly, a boy who was held back enrolled in my program. As a third grader, he wasn’t completing any of his homework. He struggled with reading and writing, he was behind in math, and his teacher wasn’t giving him enough attention. But the other day, his dad came flying through the door. He checked his two boys in and then asked me to step outside. He was so happy. He gave me a huge hug and told me that his third grader was now getting above an 80% in every subject except one.
I am so happy my program has helped these kids, and I hope it continues to do so. It’s amazing how motivated so many of these kids are to do well in school and get a good education, and I’m so proud of all of their successes. My program wouldn’t be what it is without my super-dedicated volunteers who show up every week and patiently work with the kids regardless of their needs, challenges and talents. We talk about making a difference in our world, and my tutors really are changing these children’s lives.
—By Bri Davies