I have been tutoring at LHCC for 3 school years. I find it to be a very worthwhile and encouraging ministry. It is a real high to see the light go on in a child’s mind and their faces beam as they begin to grasp a concept that has been befuddling them. It is also very gratifying to build relationships with the children as well as the parents.
This school year brought me a new challenge I was unprepared to handle. In August, I started working with Jane (not her real name) a 5th grader. At first, I was surprised to see how weak her reading skills were. The following weeks I realized that even though she could barely read she had somehow been passed on year after year by the school system. Not only could she not read, her math skills were barely at a second-grade level. I spoke with her mother on several occasions but due to the language barrier and cultural differences, I was unable to properly communicate my concern. Each week I became more and more desperate and frustrated in how to help Jane. She was bringing in 5th grade homework but had no comprehension as to what to do. Honestly, I cried in the car after each session the first couple of months. I wanted to help Jane but felt so inadequate.
Through an interpreter I asked her mother over and over if she would arrange a meeting for me with Jane’s teachers. The mom listened politely but made no effort to arrange such a meeting. Thankfully the school reached out to Jane’s mom via a letter that arrived the day before our tutoring session. Mom invited me to attend and I jumped at the chance. Sadly, the night before the meeting I came down with the flu and was quite ill. I prayed feverently that the Lord would allow me to be well enough the next morning to attend that meeting because unless I was on my death bed I planned to be there. I awoke the next day and was able to get dressed and get to the meeting which lasted almost 2 hours! I was fine during the meeting but then went home and back to bed for two more days while my flu continued after that precious 2 hour break!
During the meeting it was discussed that Jane was becoming frustrated with school and made excuses every day as to why she didn’t need to go. It also became apparent that on the present course Jane would probably become totally lost in the system and eventually drop out. Her IQ is very low and her mother is ill-equipped to help her. As a result of the meeting, it was decided that Jane was not able to continue on a mainstream 5th grade level and would be moved into an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) but still remain with her classmates. I was able to connect with her teachers and got help in how I could best help Jane. This was such a blessing because now Jane is working at a level that she can handle. She is happy to do her homework and her confidence level has soared as has our relationship. This is especially important as next year Jane will go to middle school and if not for this change and new IEP probably would have drowned in the CMS system.
Thank-you for reading my volunteer story …
D.O. ~ third-year volunteer with LHCC