April 9, 2012
Making the switch from CCLC to EAPL was a huge change because we as tutors knew the age range of the students we had and somewhat knew their reading level. But, at EAPL we could tutor students ranging from elementary school to high school. On my first day of tutoring at EAPL, I had the pleasure of working with a young high school student. She did not have any homework so we decided we would read to each other. She picked up the chapter book Hip Hop High School and asked if we could read by alternating sentence by sentence. I refused because I believed that would take a lot of time and cut back on her individual reading time, so I suggested alternating page by page. As she began to read, it quickly became apparent that she had severe trouble reading the book. Words like “around” and “students” were words she struggled to pronounce. Here she was at the age of 16, stumbling across elementary vocabulary.
After a few minutes of reading, she opened up to me that she had dreams of going to college. “ I really want to go to Penn State, I took the SATs last week”, she said with such enthusiasm. The more excitement I heard in her voice, the deeper my heart sank. This girl has dreams and was cheated by the education system. She is a junior reading at a fourth grade level and because of this, she will not score very high on the SATs. Her dreams of attending Penn State are slim to none. I became enraged and inspired at the same time. My student taught me that my efforts are not in vain. In past tutoring experiences, my students struggled, but only within their reading level. But, she was way below where she should be and instead of sitting at home; she was in the library reading to me. She taught me that there is hope and that as long as there are people who care, we can overcome the mistake made by our education system.