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What Tutoring Taught Me

By Jessica Zhang, Student at Noble and Greenough School

“I was incredibly lucky to be working with such inspiring kids!” 

           Walking up the steps of the family shelter for my first day of tutoring, I was filled with apprehension.  Butterflies fluttered in my stomach and around my head:  What if the kids don’t like me? What if I’m a terrible tutor? I don’t have younger siblings, nor do I babysit.  The idea of a roomful of children seemed daunting.  Despite my self-doubt, I opened the door.

            Not a minute after introducing myself, the kids began to gather and pull me along to play their favorite game or read a cherished book. It was clear they were excited to be together in a designated for tutoring.

            I soon began looking forward to Thursdays, the day I volunteer as a tutor for School on Wheels of Massachusetts. I would leave sports practice early, eat dinner during the forty-minute car ride to Stoughton, and stay up late to do my own homework. None of this mattered because I knew that I was incredibly lucky to work with some truly inspiring kids.

            During my first few weeks, I was paired with a young girl who was shy and guarded. As we spent time together each week, she grew increasingly comfortable and started to open up about challenges at school. One day she ran to me with her arms outstretched, ready to give me a huge hug. Thus became our weekly greeting.  Once when I wasn’t having the best day, she instantly made me feel lighter when my eyes met her smiling face.

            Another little girl I worked with would hurriedly greet me each week to show me her outfit.  This weekly fashion update became our bond.  Of course, spending time in a room with a group of children can come with its fair share of challenges. There’s a good amount of “Let’s pour the paint into the cup rather than on the table, OK?”

            As SOWMA volunteers, we are asked to be the ones who help the kids by giving them academic and social support. However, the kids taught me about the importance of being curious about everything and everyone new. They reminded me it’s ok to open a new door, despite the flutters in my stomach and around my head.

            School on Wheels provides an important connection between members of the community and local children impacted by homelessness. Without this organization, I would never have met these inspiring kids or have been given the opportunity to form such personal and mutually rewarding connections. By spending time with the same group of children each week, tutors form unique bonds that result in positive role modeling and mentoring.  These children are also assured there will be someone they trust who will show up each week just for them.

           I am honored to be one small part of this organization and I look forward to seeing what the future brings for School on Wheels and the inspiring children they serve.

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United Way of Greater Plymouth County

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School on Wheels - MA
100 Laurel Street
Suite 121
East Bridgewater, Massachusetts 02333


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