If you ask people what they consider the most challenging age group for teaching/mentoring, most would probably say middle school, grades 6 through 8. Yet dozens of CSV volunteers arrive at the Vassal Lane Upper School (as well as at four other Upper Schools), after-school, several days a week, to offer homework help to that exact age group. And they do it because they love making a difference in the lives of students.
Just as the regular school day ends, tutoring begins, and it’s quite amazing to see students settle down and engage in focused conversation with their one-to-one tutors. On one particular day, eight pairs of students and tutors were working together, under the watchful eye of coordinator Catharina Mili and CSV’s Catalina Rojas. One pair was talking math – the tutor quizzing the student about the “times table” (yes, that’s still being used!). They sat physically close, unbothered by the low hum of noise around them. Others worked on social studies, while another student was reading aloud to his tutor. Two other students played Quizmo, a math game, with an adult participating as well.
While working on homework assignments with middle schoolers might seem unthinkable to many adults, it really is a step-by-step process of engaging, communicating and supporting. Guidance on the “how-to” is always available from CSV staff. Students really just need an adult listener, someone who is totally focused on them and genuinely interested in their school experience.
While the academic year is almost over, CSV staff is already planning its annual fall kick-off event for prospective 2015-16 volunteers. If you are even considering a volunteer position with CSV, do think of joining CSV’s team of dedicated middle school volunteers.