By Jane Knoerle
When Doug Adams of Menlo Park was president of the Rotary Club of Menlo Park, he started a tutoring project at Garfield Charter School. That was 10 years ago and it's still going strong.
The 27 Rotarians who took part in the program at Garfield School this year were honored at the club's annual tutor appreciation luncheon on May 7.
During the school year, the tutors meet weekly with their charges at Garfield, a preschool through eighth-grade school in the North Fair Oaks area of unincorporated San Mateo County.
Their pupils are in third and fourth grade, the time in a student's education when he begins to learn through reading. "If kids aren't reading at third-grade level, studies show they are the least likely to be successful in their later school years," says Mr. Adams.
The tutors work with the same student each week from October to May, spending about 45 minutes a session. "It's an excellent opportunity to help on a one-to-one basis," says Mr. Adams.
The program's goal is English literacy, a challenge when the school's population is 96 percent Hispanic. Most of the children come from homes where no English is spoken, Mr. Adams says.
The tutor's teaching materials vary, from phonics books for those who are far behind in their reading skills, to National Geographic books on many subjects. The students like choosing their own subjects from the books available, says Mr. Adams.
The Rotary Club of Menlo Park and the Rotary Club Foundation contribute about $5,000 a year to the tutoring program. The money has been used for library books, outfitting the tutoring room with supplies, building a playground shelter, re-landscaping the front of Garfield School, funding science camp, a college day at Menlo College for the school's entire seventh grade, and funds for field trips.
In instructions given to new tutors, volunteers are asked to let their student's teacher know if they can't make it to a tutoring session. "The students really look forward to their time with their tutor and are disappointed if they are unaware you will not be there," it says.
It seems the feelings are mutual. "The tutors just love the kids," says Mr. Adams.
For more information about the program, e-mail Mr. Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.