Tutoring At-Risk First Graders, Detroit, MI
Since October 2016, a few members of the Sathya Sai Baba Center of Detroit have been tutoring ten at-risk first graders at the Harms Elementary School, located in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. The children lack English-speaking adults at home to help them with homework. In addition, their parents often maintain several jobs to pay the bills so the children are usually left in the care of their older siblings or grandparents.
Once a week, the Sai volunteers, armed with snacks and treats, spend 90 minutes with the children, reinforcing their reading and math skills. We try to create a loving and nurturing atmosphere, which motivates the students to try hard and succeed in their academic work. The first-grade teacher maintains a record of the performance for her students, and she gratefully noted the marked improvement in test scores of the students being tutored.
We are immensely gratified to witness how just a little attention, loving support and encouragement can make a difference in the students’ motivation to learn and succeed.
The children, on the other hand, have also taught us many humbling lessons. Even though they have little themselves, the children thoughtfully and selflessly save up their snacks and treats to bring home to their siblings. We feel immense joy to be greeted by the children with such enthusiasm, heartwarming smiles and big hugs every week. This warm, loving welcome deeply touches and fills us with gratitude, inspiring us to do even more. Such are the priceless gifts we receive from the children.
At the end of the school year, the parents organized an appreciation lunch for the teacher and tutors. One could witness the pride in students’ eyes as they introduced their tutors to the parents and siblings and described the dish their parents had lovingly made for the occasion. Despite the language barrier, parents and tutors still were able to quickly establish a strong heart-to-heart connection because of the common love for the children. May divine blessings continue to motivate and guide these children to thrive as students and become citizens of good character.