Site: La Salle Academy – New York City, NY
College: St. Mary’s College in California
What do you do?
My title is Academic Support Center Tutor, but I do many things. My main duty is to tutor students in English, Global Studies, Science, and Math. Secondly, I am in charge of the summer program called Beyond the Classroom; which allows students to go on educational trips for the summer. My third duty entails chaperoning field trips with teachers. I also counsel students on topics such as what college to attend, G.P.A questions, girlfriend issues, and dealing with deaths in the family.
Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?
It was approximately two years ago that I decided to become an LV because of a trip I took my senior year. I was granted the opportunity to live in Chicago at the Back of the Yards community for the month of January. During the month, I was a teacher’s aide in the 7th grade and helped students read and catch up on assignments they had missed. I was able to live in the community and work with the teachers and Lasallian Volunteers. The experience opened my eyes to volunteering and living in community. The Lasallian Volunteers treated me as a colleague and even though I was a temporary volunteer, I felt I belonged. They also showed me what it meant to be Lasallian and how to live the Lasallian mission. That month was a glimpse into what I would do for the next two years. I have never regretted becoming a Lasallian volunteer.
What is the most important “thing,” do you think, that your students need from you? What do you do to try to provide this?
At the Academic Support Center, students might tell you that my goal of the day is to kick them out of the center. Of course, it’s just the opposite, and my real purpose is to get them to learn something everyday. We always make sure that the students are working on something. On Fridays we have game days that enable us to step out of the academic realm and do some socializing. The most important things for my students are attention and support. How exactly do you tell a teenage boy his worth without him rolling his eyes at you and saying that’s ‘whack’? Simply ask how his day is going and really mean it. Who doesn’t want attention? When there are 20 students in the room, it is hard to give everybody the attention that they deserve, but knowing at the end of the day that they have a place to come and have that opportunity feels pretty darn good.
How has your involvement with the Brothers affected you?
The Brothers are sources of information. They listen to me and guide me in making difficult decisions. They have been in the field of education longer than I have been alive, so when it comes to asking about how to deal with discipline and teaching, I go to them. For example, during the summer I taught incoming freshmen English, and the book we read was “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I had no idea how to teach or even where to start, so I asked the Brothers. Everybody had input which was really helpful, but Br. Bill had a lot of advice to give especially about the book we were reading. He broke it down and made me think about how to approach the themes in the text and make the material engaging for the class. That summer was exhausting, mentally and physically, but rewarding in that I was able to do it. As for getting myself involved in new activities, I have to give credit to Br. Ed for motivating me. I never saw myself as a runner, or as someone who would get up at the crack of dawn to go to the gym. But Br. Ed’s abundant energy to do these things made me want to give it a try. Never in my life did I think I would ever want to run. But he showed me a new perspective– I had to take care of myself in order to take care of others. The Chicago Marathon training wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Br. Ed. And lastly, Br. Michael’s presence in the Academic Support Center has assured me of my progress. His feedback has helped me believe in myself and the work that I do. Overall, my confidence has grown because of these three Brothers.
What might you say to your Principal who appeared negative about the recent behavior of the student who had recently confided in you?
One of the things that is unique to the Academic Support Center is that many teachers and faculty do not see the students as we see them in the center. I would assure the Principal, that under a different microscope, the person is different and urge reconsideration of the situation the student faces.
Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?
Being a Lasallian Volunteer is a sacrifice that not a lot of people would make. It is a sacrifice in that you are not making the same amount of money as your friends might be making. No office perks and no Christmas bonuses. The rewards will not always be tangible things, but are felt deep inside. In this program once you are a member, you are supported and nurtured. It remains part of your life even after you leave your site, and no one forgets what you have done for them.
Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?
I heard once from somewhere, “Being happy and fulfilled is sharing that which you have and love.” Whatever the contribution, it is from the sharing and giving that one benefits. It may sound cliché, but I think it’s true. Our communities, students, clients, and volunteers benefit from any contribution, small or great. Contributions go toward making it possible for a student to go on a trip, buying a student books, or having another Lasallian Volunteer at a site. It all helps.