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Spotlight on Tutors

2015 September 18
The month of September is underway, as is the new school year. Teachers and students have returned to classes, filled with energy at the prospect of new experiences and exciting learning opportunities during the coming year. Senior Corps-RSVP is looking for additional tutors to support our area teachers and students. In this month’s Spotlight, we are featuring several tutors and the teachers for whom they work. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to become a tutor, too!
When Rosemary Adams retired, she realized that she needed to find activities that would get her out of the house and keep her mind active. That was 14 years ago and she has been a literacy tutor since then, now working at Winston Churchill School in Schaumburg. Rosemary works with first and second graders, mainly in the areas of reading and math. She tutors because she says that it is fun, and she is rewarded when she sees that the students enjoy their time together as well.
Rosemary has a story that best sums up her experience: Recently, she was at a store, and a college student came up to her recognizing her from their work together, many years ago. The student remembered that Rosemary gave her a journal in which to write. What a wonderful example of how valuable your volunteer experiences can be!

Prior to working in the corporate world Janet Isaacman was a public school teacher who understood that reading was the key to a successful future.  After retirement she wanted to return to help students not only improve their reading skills but to also understand how reading is the entry to the whole world.

Janet works with many students who are children of recent immigrants and is pleased that she can help the children develop the skills they need to be successful in their new country.  Last year Janet worked with one student who was making the transition from the bilingual class to an all English class.  Often, while she sat in silence trying to find the right word, Janet would just smile, make her feel comfortable, and let her know there was no hurry. The right word would come and when it did both shared a smile and knew that she had taken another step towards mastering her new language. Janet commented, “Giving your time and sharing your skills to help others is wonderful way to spend this special gift called retirement.
Diana Hellyer, the fourth-grade teacher at Tarkington Elementary School in Wheeling where Janet volunteers says that Janet has contributed to the success of her students, both academically and emotionally. Janet works individually with the students through “book talks,” which are conversations about the students’ independent reading. Diana says that Janet’s work allows her students to grow as readers throughout the year. The students look forward to seeing “Mrs. I” each time she visits, and former students enjoy popping in to say hello. Diana is thrilled with Janet’s continued commitment to helping her students succeed in school.

Lee Tate is a tutor of first graders at North School in Des Plaines, and has been doing so for 13 years. Lee was looking for something meaningful to do when he retired. His background in education is what drew Lee to tutoring. He helps in all subject areas, and finds it quite stimulating. Lee enjoys making personal connections with the students and says that he would miss the kids if he wasn’t a tutor.
 Sharon Bothwell tutors kindergarten children at Euclid School in Mt. Prospect. She has a diverse background, which includes teaching at the high school level and at Harper College. In her retirement, Sharon is eager to try new things.
Sharon loves working with the little ones, and Christine Cheung a teacher at Euclid School, raves about the role that Sharon has played in her classroom. She says that Sharon has tremendous patience and care for the kids, and they, in turn, love her. Christine appreciates Sharon’s strong commitment to showing up each week to help with her class.

Paula Matzek is a retired middle school teacher, welcomed the chance to be able to connect with students again and to use her knowledge and skills in a new role.  She enjoys being able to help a student who is confused by a certain homework assignment or concept.  She says some students come to the after school program lacking confidence in their own abilities, and it’s great to be able to encourage them and see them complete a task.  It’s also fun to develop relationships with the students as the semester progresses.  The students really rely on the volunteers–some of the students have no one at home who can help them with homework.  Plus, the 3:30 – 5:30 time frame works well for her.  She is able to do her daytime activities, work at school for two hours, and then go on to whatever evening commitment she might have.
 Barbara Cushing volunteers at North School in Des Plaines, working with fifth grade students. She, herself, loves to read, and is dedicated to building enthusiasm among the children. Barbara says that she feels good about her work when she sees the “light bulb go on” in the kids’ minds. It is these “aha moments” that tell Barbara that she is contributing to the students’ learning. At the end of the year, the kids write thank you notes to her, and she cherishes these as evidence of the relationships that they have built throughout the year.

We have featured only a few of the many Senior Corps-RSVP tutors. As you can see, this is an important volunteer job, and one that is rewarding for the volunteers, children and teachers, alike.
We would love to have you as a tutor!  Please contact Linda McLaughlin at for more information.

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