Hope for the Holidays: BATS Celebrates first Volunteer Project

By Andrew Lovett

(ed. note: Written by Andrew Lovett, but posted by Scott Cowan for logistical reasons)

As January ends, I have been taking down the holiday cards arrayed on our mantelpiece.  There’s one I think I’ll keep; it features a snapshot of several high schoolers smiling into the camera as they look up from their schoolwork.  I received this from the scholars of Boys Hope Girls Hope, a community organization devoted to preparing at-risk students for school success.    BHGH is also the tutoring summit’s partner in our first community service project.

The project is the brainchild of Chris Borland, BATS treasurer, and a “BATS community-action” team including members Justin Sigars and Bill Driscoll.  After some initial meetings, it was Chris who made a crucial connection with Becca Moos, program manager of BHGH, and Frank Summerlin, the organization’s community resource coordinator.

We began by doing a one-shot tutor training at an event for other volunteers.  Chris, Scott Cowan, and I also took on meeting weekly with BHGH scholars at Archbishop Riordan High School.  Paula Molligan and Laura Peterson took another tack by offering their expertise in educational placement.  As Paula put it, “I provided the placement counselor information about schools and gave him some materials…   When I met with the 8th graders, I talked with them about the admission process and we did some practice interviews, etc.  “  Proud BATS alumnus Dave Montesano addressed the crowd at BHGH’S fall fundraiser and distributed copies of his book, Brand U.

One of the benefits of tutoring is how much one can learn as a tutor, and I think that we gained a deeper respect for the challenges many students face and the hard work both they and the agencies that support them put in every day.  We also learned that logistical convenience and support is essential to folks volunteering their time, and I hope that we will provide more of this in future efforts with BHGH and other organizations.

Above all, the project shows that the relationship between tutor and student is the crucial factor in 1 to 1 education.  With that in mind, the last words in this post belong to Scott Cowan, who has forged the deepest and most promising relationship with a BHGH scholar.  Scott writes:

I’ve been working with Khaliq at Boys Hope Girls Hope on Wednesdays throughout his freshman year and have committed to helping him all the way through college admission.  I will be happy to remain his friend and mentor after admission to ensure he succeeds in college to.  He’s funny, bright, eager to please those he respects, has high hopes for his future…what’s not to like?  He and I meet at Reardon HS for 90 minutes on Wednesdays in the early afternoons.  Our tutoring time comes during one of the few blocks available to Khaliq for relaxation with friends, but he recognizes the importance of improving his grades and college readiness, so gives up this time to study even more than most others in the BHGH program.  I have told Khaliq how much I admire his tenacity and am happy to “brag on” him to anyone who cares to listen.  He’s made some impressive improvements in math fundamentals  — so much so, that he is now solving tough problems that involve quadratic equations in algebra quickly, accurately, and with a huge grin on his face.  I have re-learned some key physics concepts as we have worked together on his physics homework.  I am really enjoying helping him develop his writing now that we’ve raised grades in the two classes that had been dragging down his GPA. 

I was also able to connect a contact at SF Film Society with BHGH to ensure that Khaliq and 8 other scholars got to attend a special screening of the film Selma, at which stars, producers, and the director of the film addressed the audience.  I was glad to be on hand to see the film, discuss some important US history, and be a part of the group’s in-person Oprah moment.  I look forward to doing more mentoring and  things that develop a growing friendship with Khaliq as well as to continuing to tutor him in academic subjects and ready him for success in college and career.  I’m so glad to be one more villager he can call upon. 

The thing about that old saying “It takes a village…” is that,  just as the child being raised needs a whole team of villagers, s/he needs to travel beyond the village boundaries too.  I hope I can engage with Khaliq and others in BHGH in more activities outside of school in coming semesters and thereby further strengthen our learning relationship.