There are so many success stories, so many students who make it to college with a little extra help. Tyler Johnson, an eighth-grader at Central Middle School, is on that path thanks to concerned parents and the nonprofit Healthy Cities Tutoring program, specific to San Carlos.
Tyler and his tutor, Joyce Strauss, who doubles as a reading instructor at Brittan Acres Elementary, are sitting at a table in the Central library, after hours, going over homework.
Tyler is a bright student with good communication skills. His grades are pretty good and with the help of Strauss, who has spent one hour a week with Tyler for more than three years now, the grades are getting even better.
Tyler is even taking an elective this year that will help him get a jump on college. There are planned field trips to a couple of colleges as part of the class. He plays soccer, likes the San Francisco Giants, has a pretty cool backpack and is thinking of ways to convince his parents he needs an IPhone.
Strauss volunteers her time with Healthy Cities Tutoring, which is run by Executive Director Donna Becht and part-time assistant Saskia Teerink. In fact, about 150 people volunteer their time as part of the program.
"Last year we had 159 students, with 150 tutors," Becht said. "We have more than on a waiting list. If we had more tutors we could serve more students."
A Tutor Orientation and Training workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 24 at White Oaks, 1901 White Oak Way, in San Carlos. There are two opportunities, at 8:30 a.m. or 6:30 p.m., with training lasting about two hours.
Tutors, who range from high school students (mostly from Sequoia and Carlmont but also from Serra and Notre Dame) to senior citizens and everywhere in between, say they feel more a part of the community, or that they make a difference.
Strauss, in her 17th year as a tutor, had one student become the first in her family to graduate from high school and who is now in junior college.
"I have no doubt she will graduate from a four-year school though," Strauss said. "She wanted to stay close to home for a little while longer."
Terrink started a tutor and became a volunteer site coordinator before joining Becht as the "administration."
Healthy Cities Tutoring fills a need in the San Carlos School District as many working parents cannot afford a private tutor. Working closely with school principals, teachers and other administrators, Becht can offer a one-on-one situation that will benefit student and tutor.
The program began in February of 1997 at White Oaks Elementary School and expanded to Brittan Acres before encompassing all the schools in San Carlos.
Becht ran the program for profit, with the city of San Carlos the lone client for 13 years. The city was forced to cut the program due to budget limitations and the school district took over for awhile before cutbacks forced its elimination.
Becht decided to apply for nonprofit status to continue providing the service to every school. She now depends on grants from the city of San Carlos, the school district, Friends of the San Carlos Library, the Youth Advisory Council, The Elms, Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and other donations.
A professional videographer donated his time and talents to produce the three-minute video on the website's front page.
Potential tutors are always welcome, and signing up for the orientation is not a commitment, but a way to figure out if it's the right thing for you.
For more information, visit the website or email Becht.
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