National Mentoring Month

President Barack Obama launched 2014 by declaring January National Mentoring Month through a presidential proclamation. This 13th annual public awareness campaign is aimed at expanding quality mentoring programs to connect more of our nation’s young people with the mentors they need to reach success at school, at home, and in their communities and in the workforce. During National Mentoring Month, we celebrate the power of mentoring relationships, and the men and women who enrich the lives of our young people. Mentors selflessly give their time and experience to help our youngest generation, and ultimately our country, succeed.

Research has shown that, when matched through a quality mentoring program, mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible decisions, stay focused and engaged in school, and reduce or avoid risky behavior like skipping school, drug use and other negative activities.

We asked our tutors to tell us a story that they felt illustrated what it's like to be a volunteer tutor/mentor with School on Wheels of Massachusetts.

Cindy, a long-time volunteer tutor, tells us of her experience with Aydan:

One of my favorite parts of tutoring Aydan is when he walks into the room with this look that he can't wait to tell me something.  As he puts his backpack on the table, he usually begins right away telling me something exciting about his week, showing me a 100 on his spelling test or a new book with very interesting facts that he wants to share with me.  A few weeks ago, he approached the table, opened his folder right away and started searching through a stack of papers while saying he had something to show me. He then said that it was somewhere on the bottom because he did not want anyone else to see it.  It turned out to be a paper that he had not done well on at all.  We then went over the paper so he would know what he did wrong.   It made me feel very good about our tutor/student relationship and especially that Aydan feels comfortable enough to show me his mistakes knowing I will not judge him.  I have grown so very proud of him over the time we have been together.     

Our volunteer tutor, John, has been working with Sem on his math skills:

One of the fun moments that I remember from last year was when I had Sem do the times table each week from 1 to 15 as a warm-up to work on his basic math skills. One Monday, after he had finished the drill, he sat back and said, "Wow!  My brain is tired because you are making me think!!"  I looked at him and said,  "Yes, that is what these session are about!! "

Our volunteer tutor, Jen, had this to tell us:

I have enjoyed working with Lakeena the past two school years. I have noticed an increase in her self-confidence as time has gone on. She's more engaged in her homework this year because she seems to understand it better than last year.  Sometimes she comes to tutoring on Tuedays already knowing the words. Watching her develop in this way is very rewarding!

Jacquelyn shared her story about her work with 5th grade student, Dillon:

Tuesday night I arrived at the Family Life Center to work with a 5th grade boy, Dillon. I saw Dillon in the hallway on my way into tutoring. He told me that he did not want to come for tutoring. After talking with him for several minutes we made a deal that he would come in for only 20 minutes. The first thing we did was read his book for a book report project that is due in three weeks. I could see that he was losing interest as we read so after the 1st chapter we stopped. The story was a mystery about a mummy and the pyramids. I asked him if he knew what the pyramids looked like and he said no.

We went over to the School on Wheels computer and searched for pictures of the pyramids. I told him how some people thought the pyramids were made by aliens which really piqued his curiosity. As we were doing more research he started to ask questions about the mummies. How were they created? What did decaying mean? Who were the mummies? After 10 minutes at the computer Dillon was very excited about his book report project. We went back to the table and created a timeline for Dillon to follow so he could finish his book before his project was due. We decided he would read one chapter a day. I had to laugh because he asked me if he could read more of his book when he went upstairs to his room.

This was a student who did not want to come to tutoring that night. Before we knew it the entire hour of tutoring was up and Dillon did not want to leave. Dillon is a student who does not like to read and shows avoidance behavior when it is time to read during tutoring. To see him so excited to continue to read his book after tutoring was the BEST feeling!

Robin shared a story about one of our tutors, Mary, and her student Elijah:

Mary began tutoring for us in the fall. She is a heart surgeon, and one of the kindest people you will ever meet. She has been tutoring Eli, a very bright seventh grader who lives at Harbour House. They have a very nice relationship. They often end up spending a good amount of time talking about all sorts of things, not always school-related.

Last spring, it was MCAS testing day, so Eli had no homework. He really did not want to work too hard during tutoring. He and Mary spent all of their time on the computer. The last website they visited was about the human heart. Mary spent a long time explaining to Eli some of the things she does as a surgeon. Afterwards, they chatted about college. Mary stayed an extra 20 minutes to continue her conversations with Eli. This is not really unusual for her to do.

As I was leaving I overheard Eli say to his Mom, “I love my tutor.”

Here, at School on Wheels of Massachusetts, we believe that EDUCATION is the key to unlocking a brighter future and breaking the cycle of homelessness. We strive to light that spark – that love of learning. We rejoice each time we get to hear a student say “I love my tutor”

Thank you, Mary ,John, Cindy, Jacquelyn and all of the amazing SOWMA tutors who touch the future with their teaching.

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Get Involved - Learn about volunteer opportunities at School on Wheels of Massachusett

Read about Elijah's Journey to Tabor

A letter from a Brockton Elementary School teacher


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School on Wheels - MA
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East Bridgewater, Massachusetts 02333


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