HOT TOPIC: A Way Up for African-American Boys Part 4

Part 4: BE A TUTOR

 

We have: Part 1 – Identified the Issues, and discussed the importance of Part 2 – Making an Impact & Sharing Jesus.  We have also discussed the significance and challenges of Part 3: Be A Mentor.  Now we are taking a look at how we can be part of the solution tutors.

For the first time on the blog, I’m introducing my hubby and partner, Deronta (pronounced De-ron-té) C. Robinson.  Additionally, he is a Godly father to our beautiful little girl.  In 2002, Deronta graduated from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Information Systems.  He served seven years as an Avionics Technician in the United States Marine Corps.  Currently, he works as a Field Engineer for SunGard.

1.      What sparked your passion for tutoring?  

My passion for tutoring and teaching primarily stems from watching my grandmother (who is now 84) go through life not knowing how to read or write. At a very young age, we (my brother and cousins) would try to help her write her name or count money and that gave me a very personal connection to the importance of literacy. That experience taught me that learning is a lifelong process and no matter how old a person gets, there is never a cut off age for acquiring knowledge.

2. How did you get involved with tutoring adults to obtain their GEDs?  What did you learn about people as a result of this experience?

While attending Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL, I would regularly go to the public library to study books. While visiting the library one day, I saw a pamphlet for Literacy Volunteers of America and was interested immediately. I met with the onsite Program Director and attended the full day training session. Soon afterwards, I was assigned as a tutor to a 65 year old African-American woman. I was amazed that this woman, who had children (who were college graduates) and grandchildren (who were attending college), yet she had never learned to read. She worked diligently in each session, and I am a hard teacher. If I am going to give a person my time, they have to be willing to give me 100%. This lady gave 110% every Saturday.

As a result of participating in that program, I was enlisted to teach at a GED Preparatory School. The school consisted of students who were court ordered to be there, foreign students who were new to the United States, and older adults. I ran into a lot of opposition from the younger kids at first, but once they got to know me, they found that I cared too much to let them go to sleep or fake their way through class. I cared enough to not let them dictate the environment in class. As a result, they began to change. They asked hard questions. They took more time to think about their answers. They learned. Through participation in that program, I learned that everybody can learn if given a fighting chance.

3. Several years ago, you outlined and implemented a tutoring ministry through our church for the youth in the local community.  Why do you see tutoring as a ministry?  What makes a program like this successful?

Tutoring is a ministry because the world is changing rapidly. We must have children who are not only smart, but also know how to solve hard problems. Our children need to learn how to incorporate prayer along with their learning, so that they depend on God to see them through. Tutoring is an act of compassion: giving, sharing, and showing love to our neighbors.  Most of all, tutoring is a way to reach lost children and show them that somebody cares about them.

Prayerful, selfless sacrifice and dedication is what makes a tutoring ministry successful. For the 13 to 15 students that regularly attended our program, I had tutors who were doctors, lawyers, and officers in the military.  I had a fleet of college graduates all there for one reason, to help children learn and it was incredible.

4. We have acknowledged that the lack of parental involvement directly contributes to the issues that we are addressing in the series.  You have seen the academic deficiencies on both the child and adult levels.  Identify ways that we can reach out to parents concerning the value of education.

Parents are often unprepared to help their children, therefore they disengage. I can see a benefit of tutoring programs that offered “refresher” courses for parents so that they are more likely to sit down with their children and help them think through problems. I would say to parents, “It is okay for you not to know the answers, but it is not okay to give them the impression that you do not care. Make a list of people that you know who have strengths in difficult areas and call them in times of need.”
5. What are some practical things that people can do to get started?

It is very easy to get started. Visit your local library and ask about tutoring opportunities. Go online and search for tutoring opportunities in your area. Most programs only require an hour and a half of your time a week and they are very flexible. Give tutoring a try.

Natasha’s Comments:  There you have it ladies and gentlemen.  Let’s make a difference together. Also of interest:  Check out Why Boys Fail.com.

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