Mentoring has the power to change two lives: A youths and yours

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To the editor:

It never occurred to me to be a tutor or a mentor to be part of a childs life, a child I didnt know. Then I saw an ad saying Alexandria needed tutors. Being a new resident to the city and wanting to get involved, I told myself, I can help.

I started to tutor a second-grader in reading. I didnt know what to expect. I was afraid I wouldnt be able to help my student or that we wouldnt relate. Boy, were my fears unfounded! 

My student was so eager to learn and excited to have a tutor. She felt special among her peers. We spent a half-hour twice a week reading aloud and, over time, I saw her reading improve dramatically. I was thrilled knowing that reading proficiency and vocabulary in the primary grades significantly affect the opportunities she will have and the choices she will make as she gets older. The confidence she gained through her reading skills impacted how she sees herself and how the world sees her.  

I enjoyed the give-and-take with my student so much that I continued it after the school year and evolved my role into mentoring in addition to tutoring. Mentoring expands my students world. I have seen her eyes light up as we have taken a boat ride to see the Nationals play, dined at a Greek restaurant and seen the Rockettes at the Verizon Center. Her world has gotten larger and so has mine.  

I care about this young lady I didnt even know two years ago. And I take a lot more interest in educational issues in Alexandria that will affect her and other kids like her. I have seen her challenges up close and want to help her along.

Have you thought about being a mentor to a child who could really use some personal attention and someone to show them the wider world? The Alexandria Mentoring Partnership had a cruise on the Potomac on Tuesday to let prospective mentors know the range of programs that are available. There are quite a few programs, each with a different goal, age group and set of activities.    

Even if you missed the cruise you can learn about mentoring and consider changing two lives a deserving childs and yours by sending an email [email protected] If you are a current mentor, please re-up and continue to play a very positive role in a childs life.

– Louise Kenny  
Alexandria Mentoring Partnership coordinator

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