Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TUTORING AT THE Y: A Tool for Social Justice

Laura Gallagher remembers the looks on those kindergartner faces as she read them the book "Is There Really A Human Race?" Exploring the literal meaning of "human race" in the book reminded Laura that kids see and hear more than they let on. At the end of the book, the boy's mother tells him that it is up to us to help each other and show compassion for all--after all, wouldn't it be better for everyone to win the race? 

For Laura, that's the power of community to bring diverse adult perspectives that enrich children's lives--socially and academically. As a University YMCA VIS-A-VIS tutor, Laura brings that vital component of community to the classroom.

The University YMCA's Volunteers In Schools, A Vital Service Student Program, better known as VIS-A-VIS has been providing opportunities for enthusiastic and dedicated University of Illinois students to tutor children one-on-one or be a classroom aide in the local Champaign-Urbana elementary, middle, and high schools for over 30 years. I missed being around other people outside of my age group," said Laura, VIS-A-VIS volunteer and Student Board member. Laura found the University Y's Vis-A-Vis tutoring group to be a good opportunity to have that quality time with children that she missed during her volunteering time in high school.

"I think VIS-A-VIS is one of the most important tutoring resources for teachers in Champaign-Urbana," says Brandon Rutherford, 3rd grade science teacher at Garden Hills Elementary in Champaign, Illinois. 

Volunteer tutor spends quality time 
with Mr. Brandon Rutherford's students.
Mr. Rutherford is a 3rd grade Science teacher 

at Garden Hills Elementary School in Champaign.
Brandon says that teachers are always actively looking for help in the classroom, for those diverse perspectives that just one adult can't simply bring to fully enrich every child's life in their classrooms. The VIS-A-VIS tutoring program uniquely aides teachers in their pursuits for help by offering placements for enthusiastic student volunteers, including pre-service teachers who need that vital classroom time, in virtually every subject.

Mr. Rutherford reminds us that you don't need teaching experience. You don't need experience with children. You need a smile on your face and the willingness to have a boatload of fun. VIS-A-VIS tutors bring the fun. Learn more about the VIS-A-VIS Volunteer Tutoring Program and other student programs of the University YMCA at universityymca.org/student_programs.

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