Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Back to School

     Yesterday was my first day back at the Academic Support Center of our community college, where I am a volunteer writing tutor. This year I am only a "substitute" because I'll be away too much to fit into the regular schedule. Still, I enjoy tutoring students and find the experience very rewarding.


     When I arrived on campus, I noticed that the parking lots were as full as I'd ever seen them. Later, the ASC coordinator told me that student enrollment is up this year.


     The newest, most recognizable building on campus is called the Gateway Center . . .


     . . . and inside the Gateway Center is my favorite place on campus.


     There were many students streaming in, ready to learn -- although there wasn't much for me to do the first day, since no students are facing a deadline for an essay the first week of college. The only help I gave was showing people how to log onto their student accounts, where to go for placement exams, how to access online homework assignments and course information.

    
     The Academic Support Center, where I hang out, is located on the first floor of the college library.


      This is a community college in one of the more affluent suburban areas of New York. Yet we still get many students who have various challenges -- some are poor, many speak English as a second language, many are also working while they go to school, or taking care of kids; some of them have a long commute by bus.


     Sometimes we tutors wonder if we really do any good at all, if we're ever getting through to people. (In case you can't read the quote: "It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.") But we keep on trying -- helping students write their own stories on their own blank slates.


    

18 comments:

Barbara said...

I hope that when you get your "forever" home (or let's say forever for now home) you are able to continue your good work at a new college. What you do is so valuable, not just for the writing help, but the mentoring in general. Sometimes all it takes is one good role model and a kid is off to a new start.

retirementreflections said...

I agree with Barbara. After working in school systems for over thirty years, I have witnessed time after time the huge difference that good tutors make in the lives of students. Thank you for doing this important work, and for sharing it in this post.
Donna
www.retirementreflections.com

Anonymous said...

I guarantee that tutors make a difference and are remembered for it. During grad school, I graded papers for the physics department (without a book, much less an "answer sheet"!) and tutored differential equations for some of the engineering students. Later, I worked with some of each set of students and heard from them how much they appreciated the time I took in explaining problem solutions in physics or approaches to solving the differential equations. (One of the students even became a VP in the company for which I worked the last 14 years of my career.)
Cop Car

Diane Dahli said...

Tutors make a tremendous difference! The one-on-one attention, which teachers cannot give, is invaluable. There will be times when you wonder if it's worth it, and when students my not be appreciative, and some may not know how to thank you. But as a teacher of many years of working with special needs students, I can vouch for your usefulness!

Carole said...

Oh, that back to school feeling at the beginning of the school year. I remember it well. Filled with excitement and anticipation of new experiences and new learning opportunities.

The practice of giving of yourself and your time will of course benefit others as well as benefit you. It is so life affirming to be able to know you are making an impact on another person's life. Maybe the student won't be a high achiever academically, but he or she will know that someone cared enough to spend time with them and give them a hand at this important point in life's journey.

Olga Hebert said...

The thing about teaching is that you often don't really know what kind of long term impact you may have. You hope for the best. Sometimes I do hear from a former student or the parent of a student -- rare but gratifying.

Pam said...

So glad your new digs are close enough to the college for you to volunteer again. As a former teacher, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your contribution. I believe a committed tutor can make an incredible impact on students. Students are often able to be more vulnerable in a one-on-one setting, and tutors are able to customize learning. Hoping this might be your best year yet!!

gigihawaii said...

I am sure your students profit from your tutoring. Every bit helps.

Stephen Hayes said...

I taught for many years and eventually I got tired of all the rules and paperwork that got in the way of teaching.

Dick Klade said...

You are doing a truly wonderful thing.

DDD said...

Not only that you volunteer your time and knowledge. You need to be patient and express well. You are a very kind and intelligent person!

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Volunteering....so American!

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