Since February 2009, the Mercer Island Rotary Club has been tutoring students at Van Asselt Elementary School in South Seattle. Every Tuesday morning during the school year, between six and 12 Rotarians arrive to help children in kindergarten through second grade with reading, math and other topics.
Carol Friends, a tutor for the past 10 years, says it’s more than just tutoring — it’s seeing changes.
“You become a cheerleader and a friend to these children,” Friends said. “You see them grow and learn and, in the spring, you send them off to new adventures. You hope their experience with you will have made a difference in their lives because they have made a difference in ours.”
Rotary’s John Hamer agrees.
“In my class, one little boy said to me, ‘I like when you come here. It makes me happy,’” Hamer said.
The program has been admired throughout Rotary District 5030, as it gives Rotarians an opportunity to live up to their motto “Service above self,” and there are now clubs in the district considering similar programs for the Seattle School District.
“Schools without tutors is like rowing a boat with small holes in it,” said Seattle teacher Sandra Rollins. “You are trying your best but something just isn’t making the whole picture for your student(s).”
Tutors “don’t have to be qualified instructors, just people who love to share what they know,” she added.
“My kindergarten students are excited having rotary club volunteers come to our class,” said teacher Marilyn Barut. “Reading with my students and teaching them alphabet letters and sounds have built their confidence in reading.”
See www.mirotary.org for more.