Wednesdays are the slower day for the Tutor and Mentors Community Club, a club that meets twice a week in NC17, where Goshen College students offer homework assistance to students of Goshen Middle School.
On a typical Wednesday there are only about five tutees and tutors, but today the tutors are planning on just three students. Instead there are only two.
“Where’s Oscar?” asks Gabby Nunes Maldonado, a GC first-year and one of the tutors. Fast dialogue ensues between Maldonado, Derek Johnson, a junior, and Solongo Gonchigsuren, also a first-year, as well as their two tutees, Jesus Padilla and Jordan Horn. “He missed the bus,” pipes Padilla. Without missing a beat, Jan Zawadzki, the coordinator of the Tutor and Mentors Community Club program, agrees to go pick him up at the library where the bus left him.
Picking up the tutees is nothing new to Zawadzki. On Tuesdays the Goshen Middle School bus drops off students, but on Wednesdays Zawadzki drives roughly four hours to pick up and drop off the students. He embraces that time bonding with the children and witnessing them bond with each other. “Those four hours are the best of my week,” said Zawadzki sincerely.
According to Zawadzki, he and his “lil’ hermano” Padilla have made significant strides since the beginning of their relationship.
“Jesus used to be a real troublemaker at the beginning of our club, failing most of his classes and being expelled from school repeatedly,” said Zawadzki. “Now, he’s improved most of his grades, hasn’t been expelled since I started to mentor him and he’s dreaming about going to college now, maybe even Goshen College.”
He continued, “Jesus wants to be a software developer, mechanic or own his own business, dreams that he started having the moment our program started and which motivate him to take school really serious. He’s a really good kid and understands the material quickly; he just needs someone to sit down with him and to go over the stuff again.”
The program is new as of this year. Zawadzki was inspired by a similar program in Berlin, Germany, that his friend was a member of that worked with Turkish immigrants. Zawadzki’s hope was that the Goshen program would create a stronger community dynamic. After working closely with Sarah Koontz, a math teacher at Goshen Middle School, the program expanded to help students from a variety of backgrounds.
The goal of the club is for the tutors to have a continual relationship with these middle school students. “Many are from underprivileged families and have been disappointed by people in their lives,” Zawadzki said. The program is more than tutoring–it also contains a significant mentor portion. It makes finding tutors more difficult, as they need to commit to weekly tutoring.
Next year, the program hopes to work with PRSSA, the public relations committee, to get the word out about the program and recruit more Goshen College tutors willing to take on leadership positions.
Nunes Maldonado, a first-year tutor, playfully bickers with Oscar de la Rosa, the late arriver, over whether or not he has gotten his homework done prior to coming tonight.
“Sometimes I don’t have any homework but I still want to come,” said de la Rosa before turning towards Nunes Maldonado, grinning. The two high-five.