As I entered the school cafeteria for the first time to tutor with CALM AmeriCorps, I was confronted with a sea of moving backpacks, loud voices, and a collective excitement amongst the kids that the school day was over. Although initially it was intimidating to enter this scene, not knowing any of the kids, I was excited to see the inner-workings of the tutoring program at the school. One of the first things that stood out to me was the overwhelming amount of students at Walker Elementary, contrasted with the sparse number of tutors. There were only a handful of tutors present, mostly UVa students who had tutored with Abundant Life in the past and a couple of AmeriCorps Members. Thus, most tutors, including myself, had multiple kids to tutor at once. Although this was feasible, it was frustrating to have to split my time between three of the girls, knowing I was not able to give each one my full attention.
As the semester continued, Abundant Life staff and AmeriCorps Members focused their time and effort into recruiting more tutors. Word spread quickly through campus ministries and volunteer organizations, and the number of tutors began to grow. In just a month, it was incredible to see the program grow from one tutor with three kids to almost having to double up the tutors with each kid. Not only was it encouraging seeing the sheer numbers of tutors grow, but on a deeper level, it was powerful to see the impact that the one-on-one tutoring and mentoring time had on the kids. I received feedback from teachers commenting on the improvement that they were able to see in certain students. One teacher commented on the impact that she had seen in a specific student through the tutoring, stating, “when I was asking questions before the test, he had his hand up and knew most of the answers. He did well on his test and was very proud of himself!!! Thank you for your help!!!.” For many of the kids, having a personal tutor not only helps them learn the material better, but can boost their self-confidence and love of learning. Thus, it has been truly encouraging to witness the growth in the program and the impact on the students within the past month, making my time as an AmeriCorps member in the tutoring program something to be proud of.