Volunteer Spotlight: Gary W.

Name: Gary W.
Volunteer Location: Willow Street
Years Volunteered:  5 ½

How did you hear about NHR?
Another tutor told me about it. I shadowed him and was hooked.

What’s your favorite part about tutoring?
This is easy—without a doubt, it is watching the students develop. Sometimes there are bumps in the road and you question yourself; if you are really doing anything for the student. Then the staff, all of whom are so skilled and encouraging, lessen the doubts you may have and provide just the right suggestion to get back on the right path. The other thing that convinced me to tutor is the parents. The parents have to bring the student in and pick them up after each session. I told myself, “If they can commit to this effort, then so can I.” The students might be tired from having spent a day at school, but they come into New Haven Reads excited and willing to work hard.

Any fond memories you’d like to share?
Oh, there are so many fond memories, but one comes to mind immediately. Early on, I tutored a first grader who had been tested to be reading at the kindergarten level. Even at the first session, I felt something was not right. At the second session, just as a game, I had her slowly read the 12 words in the workbook exercise. Then when she did not expect it, I shut the book and said “Now write down the 12 words.” She not only recalled all 12, but wrote them in order! The whole picture changed right then and there and in six months, she was tested to be reading at the 4th grade level.

If you could describe NHR in one word, what would it be?
One word to describe NHR? REWARDING. Rewarding because you are returning something to the community because you were given advantages that were not given to these students. Rewarding because you actually see the student developing. Rewarding because you develop new skills thanks to the help given by the staff—they are so skilled and encouraging. Rewarding when you see the student greet you in the session as a friend and a mentor. Rewarding when you see so many tutors giving their time to this program and realizing that you are a part of this rewarding program. Rewarding, just because it is a lot of fun.