Yesterday was my first day of after school tutoring. No I wasn’t getting tutored, I was doing the tutoring. I have to say that even though I was stressing out about hanging out with a bunch of roudy youngsters, I think I can do this.
I was lucky on my first day because we were short on cars in my house and so Michelle had to pick me up from work. So I was able to drag her along to the tutoring program with me and that helped. Yeah, yeah, I’m a wuss I know. But Michelle is great with kids, and so having her there as well gave me a little confidence to get over the initial hump. Next week I’ll know the lay of the land and how the system works and I’ll be able to settle in.
The main thing I learned yesterday though is that I’m needed. Out of 50 people who signed up to tutor, only 25 actually followed up and committed to a day on the schedule. Before the first day of class, 5 more dropped out. I’m sure within the next few weeks we’ll be down to even less people. Yet over time the number of kids will increase as they tell their friends in the neighborhood. This is the struggle that programs like this face and honestly, it’s sad.
It’s sad because we love to bitch and moan and complain about the woes of the world, but so few of us are willing to step up and give a little time to help make it right. I’ve been guilty of this for many many years, so I’m looking in the mirror here as well. But that’s got to change. A boss I had in the past once told me that he loved to work for companies that were screwed up because that’s where he could make the biggest impact. Those are wise words.
In class I met a little girl in the 4th grade who’s school work is about 2nd grade level, but her street smarts are about 9th grade. Her grand parents are younger than I am and her mom had her when she was just 15 years old. She didn’t mention her father at all. She’s sassy and bossy and has seen way too many horror movies (she can recite most of Freddie’s lines from Nightmare on Elm Street from heart). Yet she’s still a little girl. She’s still vulnerable and sweet, and occasionally that squeezes through the bravado.
So that’s why I’m sticking this out. Kids like this need a moral compass. They need as much positive influence and guidance as we can give them. Can we single handedly change these kids’ lives? I wouldn’t bet on it. But Jesus didn’t bash people over the heads to change them, he accepted them as they were and he planted seeds. And so that’s what we’re called to do as well.