What tops making a kid smile?

2014 Youth Volunteer Event Slideshow29

Zak (left) tutors Dominic at PPL’s afterschool program.

What keeps a volunteer coming back to help at PPL’s afterschool programs year after year.

Zak was a Minnesota Reading Corps member when he began tutoring Dominic after school with PPL Scholars, and has continued past his initial service term to continue working with him—in fact, this year will be their third year together!

“I’m pretty sure no one else has someone that works with them that long,” says Dominic.

Together they have improved Dominic’s reading scores, and Zak has seen other changes too, noting Dominic has, “also gained more focus; he seems to distract less easily.” This year their academic goal will be to build Dominic’s math skills in addition to his blossoming literacy skills.

Dominic enjoys his time in programming, commenting that, “we get to read what I am interested in,” and “I like that Zak helps me learn.” His favorite thing about working with Zak is, “he also takes me rock climbing, which is something that I really like. Once, we went on a trip to Midwest Mountaineering. We missed the bus, so we had to walk a mile back. We were both so hungry and tired. I really like rock climbing now.” This year they hope to do more rock climbing and even try some cooking!

Youth on Stilts

Dominic is part of a stilt walking group with other PPL youth.

PPL Scholars is a high quality, housing-based, academic skill-building program that targets literacy skills needs and pro-social skills development. Tutor-Mentors like Zak work with the same Scholar twice a week for the school year, focusing on individualized literacy interventions, character development, stress reduction and social-emotional learning. PPL staff supports Tutor-Mentors through extensive training, cooperative problem-solving, and on-going coaching.

Zak’s advice for anyone considering becoming a volunteer Tutor-Mentor is: “make sure you have the steam and time to dedicate.” Four hours a week for the duration of a school year is indeed a big commitment, but a few dedicated Tutor-Mentors like Zak have stuck with it year after year! According to Zak, his motivation lies within the relationship he’s built with Dominic—as he says, “What tops a child smiling?”

Help support student success—become a Tutor-Mentor today! PPL Scholars has been proven effective—in 2014, 90% of Youth Program participants increased their reading score!

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