The following was written by Dawn DeCamp. Dawn has served as a Tutor and volunteer in the program. She is also a member of White Bluff Presbyterian Church.
What might you find if you strolled into the Education Building at White Bluff Presbyterian Church on Thursday between 4 and 6 pm? You might find some confusion, and you would definitely find some enthusiasm, excitement and noise. BUT, if you take a closer look and a little more time, you would find so much more.
White Bluff Presbyterian Church is touching more than the students through our tutoring program. There are the paid adults, the volunteers, Pastor Eric, the parents, teachers and even the folks in the neighborhood who have come out to see what’s happening on Thursday afternoons. Come with me to glimpse a part of this ministry.
Peek in a little before 4 pm and you will find tutors happily greeting new friends and discussing elementary math. They will be sharing books they have bought or checked out at the library. Suddenly, in rushes a van load of sweaty, hungry kids and one driver who updates us on who is here and who has a ball game or who was not at school that day. Tutoring time has begun.
Up to eighteen students swarm to tables where snacks and cups are waiting for them. They place their drink orders and talk excitedly about what they have been doing and what foods are sitting before them. Some might even slide a bit of their leftover snacks into their backpacks for later. If you are listening with your ears, you will hear some silly name calling or shout for food swapping from the next table. You will also hear a polite request of more milk, or extra carrots. If you are looking with your eyes only, you will find students of varying sizes, ages, colors, sexes and backgrounds. You will see some kids who have difficulty staying in their seats while others are excitedly waving at their tutors or trying to get Ms. Cheryl’s attention. What I would like to ask of you is to stay a minute, take time to look and listen with your heart.
In the midst of that mass chaos sit kids who have unique personalities, needs and concerns. These are kids who were excited to be “picked”, for this opportunity. Listen again and you will hear one child trying to announce to any adult within ear shot about his first EVER 100 on an AR test that week. He has been waiting an entire week for someone to celebrate with him. You will hear another child expressing concern over not being able to make honor roll because he has fallen behind this year. One little girl is cutting up because she finds it easier for her tutor to think she is silly rather than “dumb”… and she hides fears of failing 3rd grade yet again if she doesn’t pass upcoming tests.
Listen carefully and you will hear the soft cries of a 5th grade young man who isn’t sure he is accepted or liked by his peers. He is quietly waiting for someone to acknowledge his grief. In the hallway, you may hear an anxious mom describing the lack of individual time she has to give her struggling child while she looks for some form of understanding. Another parent comments on the gang activity in the neighborhood that has opened its arms towards his shy child. Look closely and you will see a child who has been in “special ed” classes not because of his grades, but because of his attitude. What you really see is a child who may try his tutor and all volunteers at every turn; but today is eagerly jumping at the chance to share his latest victory with his behavior report and even takes time to show off his school picture to someone who cares.
These are our children, they are our neighbors and they need all of us.