“I taught elementary school for ten years. Then I ran an educational publishing company for twenty…”
“…So, I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve.” This is how Tom Snyder encapsulates his preparedness for going back to school. Snyder joined Cambridge School Volunteers (CSV) as an after-school tutor just this year. Serving on a number of boards of directors as he’s been doing for decades, Snyder was ready to switch up his role. “I wanted to do something with more immediate effect,” he says.
Rindge Avenue Upper School (RAUS) is where Tom’s “immediate effect” is taking place every week, with a sixth-grader. Tom tutors a “’tween” who is trying to learn to play guitar in his spare time—an ordinary kid who is keeping up with math, social studies, and science with Tom’s help. It is volunteers like Tom who find what is special about their students, and turn what might seem like a simple transaction—homework help—into a relationship the builds confidence and an academic and personal scaffolding.
RAUS, in North Cambridge, is one of five sites where CSV provides free tutoring to public school sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. Called “Learning Centers,” these school-based programs are staffed by a CSV coordinator, and most also have a teacher or staff person from the school on duty. The hundred or so volunteers who comprise the CSV Learning Center corps range from neighborhood residents to students from local colleges to professionals working nearby. “Looking around the room, all of the adults are incredibly personable. There are three engineers in the group I’m in,” says Snyder. Each tutor has a particular student, whom a teacher has referred for extra help, and works with that child for a minimum of three consecutive months.
Tom does his own homework. “An hour before I go in I look at my kid’s science assignments online, and do some research outside but related to his curriculum, so we have something to talk about that might make him more interested,” says Snyder, whose son and daughter are Cambridge Rindge and Latin School graduates.
Tom Snyder is struck by the sense of mutual commitment he has on arriving at the RAUS Learning Center each Wednesday. “You walk into a room filled with kids who have had to make a pledge to come to the Learning Center, even though they might rather be on the bus that left earlier. They’ve realized they need help, or someone has said they need help. When I get there I feel ‘I’ve got to hold up my end of this contract.’”
To become an upper school tutor like Tom, sign up for an orientation:
New tutors are also welcome to our middle school math workshop; sign up as a volunteer and be trained all at once, on March 15th: