Our Last Day of Tutoring at West Middle School!

May 21, 2010 | 826 Blog Post

I CAN’T BELIEVE I don’t have photos to show you. I mean, I really CANNOT BELIEVE it. First off, I forgot my camera. THEN, I realized that I could just take a photo on my phone. THEN, I got busy eating pizza and chips and cupcakes and strawberries and carrots and clementines and celery and hummus and drinking grape pop and pomegranate limeade and laughing and high fiving and hugging and handing out books for summer reading and well, I just got overwhelmed and forgot to take a picture.

My bad. Seriously, friends: My bad. And so, to TRY to make up for it, I’ll do what we try to teach young writers to do: I’ll make a picture with my words.

Yesterday was the last day of our tutoring program at West Middle School in Ypsilanti. We’ve been offering free, drop-in, after-school tutoring to the students there since September. I haven’t the words to illustrate the bond that we’ve developed with these students, the ways they’ve made us laugh, the things they’ve taught us. I can say this: I go in just about every Thursday afternoon, and I work with Drew. We haven’t been officially paired up, but at this point, when Drew walks into the tutoring room, he just comes and sits next to me. We work on homework, and read, and play Hangman. Sometimes it seems that Drew’s eaten nothing but sugar all day and I have to chase him around, or fight him a little to keep him focused. Honestly, I’m a little worried about how I’ll feel at 2:30 next Thursday. I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss my afternoon with Drew.

Times this sentiment by a hundred or so, roughly, for Phoebe Goldberg. Phoebe is our West Tutoring Intern, and she’s been there every single day, all year long. She knows every single student’s name, what homework they rock through, and what they struggle with. She knows that Latina loves to work with Robert, that Robey only needs the tiniest bit of help with his homework, that Sydney will be sweet and well behaved and remind her fellow students that, “These tutors are working with us for FREE, because they WANT to, so you BETTER be grateful,” that Darius will be a handful, but also that he’s incredibly creative, and that, if he gets out of hand, he’ll probably make her a thank-you card to make up for it.

Phoebe showed up yesterday in the most beautiful spring dress: Pixelated roses in magentas, oranges, and plums. (As long as I’m painting a picture, I’ll add this detail: The tutors and students presented Phoebe with three dozen roses, and they perfectly complimented her outfit. Can’t you picture it?) Phoebe also showed up with about twenty pizzas. The tutors rounded it out with all the yummy things I described in the first paragraph.

We managed to work for about a half an hour. Drew and I played Hangman, and in a stunning twist, I immediately determined that _ _ _ _   _ _ _  _ was Iron Man 2 (in all fairness, he had a wikipedia article about the movie printed out and right next to him). And then, PIZZA PARTY! Phoebe was presented with roses; Phoebe, Bethany, and Robert (the two co-captain interns) were presented with thank-you cards signed by all; the students were presented with copies of The Wild Things for their summer reading; everyone chanted Speech! Speech! Speech! until Phoebe gave one; all pizza and cupcakes were devoured; and THEN everyone went outside to run around in the beautiful, eighty-degree day.

All in all, a wonderful cap to a wonderful year. A BILLION THANKS to Phoebe Goldberg, who, quite frankly, managed the most challenging internship we’ve ever offered with grace and calm, and could not have been more impressive. A HUNDRED THANKS to Robert Schuster, Bethany Rickwald, and our In-school, On-site Coordinator and AmeriCorps member Frances Martin, who helped Phoebe and the students in every possible way. A HUNDRED MORE THANKS to Deianira Smith, Sandy Hummel, and Marcy Sliwinski, our West staff helpers, who stayed late and helped oversee everything. And, finally, a GAGILLION THANKS to the smart, talented, and funny students at West, who touched the lives of all of the volunteers who went in every week. Hope to see you all next year! (And I promise I’ll remember my camera. Honestly, I wish I could show you the lovely Phoebe in her stunning dress with all those roses.)

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