Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Midtown Center for Boys

Last Saturday, I had the great privilege of visiting Midtown Center for Boys in Bucktown. Serving primarily African-American and Latino boys from all over Chicago, Midtown Center for Boys offers one-on-one tutoring and mentoring for 4th-6th graders. After 6th grade, the tutoring program is centered around enrichment classes to prepare the students for test-taking and college admissions. The one-on-one tutoring and mentoring program is where the boys get their start at academic enrichment, and that's what I visited.

Every tutoring session begins with 45 minutes of sports - a great idea in my opinion because I know how energetic kids can be after getting out of school or waking up in the morning on Saturdays. This helps them better focus for the next hour and 15 minutes on their schoolwork. Students then meet with their tutors one-on-one for about an hour. At the end, their is a show-and-tell time for students and finally, a virtue talk. The virtue talk is led by an adult tutor/mentor who leads a discussion about a certain virtue. This week the virtue was enthusiasm, and I must say the boys showed great enthusiasm at participating in the discussion about why putting passion and energy into everything they do. Previous discussion surrounded around the virtues of compassion and dependability. I thought this was a great way to break out of the academic mode and help mentor the students into become better people. One of the tutors even had his student write an essay about the virtue that was discussed the previous week.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the level of dedication of the volunteer tutor/mentors. Since Midtown Center for Boys is only for boys (there's also the Metro Achievement Center for Girls), all the tutors are male as well. Many of them are young professional, just out of college, and they showed great enthusiasm and passion for what they are doing. I saw some of them carrying books about geometry and preparing for state testing into the program - evidence that they were going above and beyond the call of duty of just tutoring for that hour. I was also impressed that many tutor/mentors had been tutoring for 7, 8, 9 years - which shows a great dedication to staying involved in students' lives.

I want to especially thank Angel Diaz, the program director of the 4th-6th grade one-on-one tutoring program for letting me come this past Saturday. I had a wonderful time at Midtown Center for Boys and was thoroughly impressed with everyone their.

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