Tutoring at Gardner Gives HBSers a Chance to Connect with Kids

Every Tuesday afternoon, a group of 30 HBS people (partners, ECs and RCs) trek over to Gardner Extended Services School in Allston for the opportunity to tutor and mentor a group of 1st-5th grade students.

The Gardner School program services mostly lower-income students (80% meet the federal poverty guidelines to participate in the Free or Reduced Price Lunch Program). The school serves not only the needs of the children (including after-school programs and on-campus healthcare) but also the broader community (for example, ESL classes and computer classes for parents). I joined up with the tutoring program, run by HBS Volunteers Club, in October, when I was still adjusting to the “HBS Bubble.” I wanted to join so I could maintain a link to the community outside HBS, and it’s been great to have an activity that helps me keep it real, at least one day a week!

I met Anna, a shy second-grader on our first day of tutoring in October. While the other children were running up to all of us, trying to identify their tutors, Anna sat quietly and waited for me to come find her. She didn’t say much of anything unless I asked her questions directly, and even then she often replied in one-word answers. I could tell she wasn’t used to having this much individual attention from an adult, but I was very impressed to see how studious she was when we started working on her homework together.

Since that first day, Anna has really come out of her shell (as you can see in the picture!). She is still working hard in school – she’s a good reader and is now pushing to read beyond her current level. In addition, I can see that it has been great for her confidence to have the undivided attention of an adult. She comes from a large family where both parents work, and I don’t think she has much opportunity to interact with adults one-on-one. For me, it has been a chance to connect with a really sweet child each week. It’s amazing how a seven-year-old can help you stay grounded, even in the midst of your first semester at HBS!

I am having a fantastic time in the Gardner program this year, and I definitely look forward to continuing my involvement next year. I’ll stay with Anna, tutoring her through her 3rd grade year as she helps me through my EC year!