The bell rings. A sea of bobbing backpacks floods the cafeteria. Some students run up to give hugs to their tutors, some clump together like penguins huddled in the cold, while others pace about the room. The noise finally settles, and tutors and their students make their way through the maze of the Walker Upper Elementary hallways to their classrooms. Papers spill out of backpacks, the search for the elusive and always missing pencil begins, students wrack their brains to remember which general won the Battle of Gettysburg, and tutors keep their composure while frantically trying to remember all the steps of long division. Throughout the hour of homework, shoulders periodically slump down in frustration, and there is the occasional tear shed over the never-ending worksheet. However, it also wouldn’t be a true tutoring day without the bouts of laughter peppered throughout hour, the words of encouragement to finish one more math problem, and the triumphant smile of the successful student.
Each day of tutoring with Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries in their after-school programs is an adventure. While it is exciting to see the academic growth of each student and the tangible results of test scores reflecting their hard work, , I have been encouraged even more deeply by the relationships I see built between tutors and students. For many of the students, their tutor is more than just another teacher figure. They are also a friend, mentor and someone with the capacity to speak deep truth and inspiration into their lives. Having a “cool” college student who is willing to show up consistently, encourage and love them through a melt down over mixed fractions, or even get excited with them about the parts of a plant cell, means more to a student than they may ever admit. All this to say, I am grateful for Abundant Life, for friendships with kids so different from me, and for the opportunity to witness growth in the lives of so many students.
- Rebecca Lee (Fellows '15)