P1000751-resizedAt our end-of-school year Appreciation Luncheon, hosted by the ALP Board, Montclaire tutor, Ron Zick, shared some thoughts on his experience as an Augustine tutor.  His story – or the story of his student, “J” – touched many of us deeply and we asked Ron’s permission to share his remarks with you here.

Good afternoon.

My name is Ron Zick.  I have been a CMS volunteer at Montclaire Elementary for 6 years and an Augustine Literacy Project tutor for the past 4.

My Augustine experience has been somewhat unusual because I have had the pleasure of tutoring the same student for all of those 4 years.

And the more I thought about what to say to you today — about my Augustine experience — the more I realized that I had to tell you about this remarkable young man.

For his privacy, I will refer to him by his first initial “J”.  He is a 9-year-old 3rd grader. He is intelligent; he has a great memory, a great attitude and he is a competitor.  He loves to play and watch sports and many of our conversations are about his favorite teams.

His competitive spirit also carries over to the classroom. He likes to do well in class. When he placed 3rd in his class’ Spelling Bee, you have never seen anyone prouder than he was. And the first time that he beat me at Scrabble, he made sure EVERYONE knew.

But “J” has also had to deal with academic disappointments. When he found out that he had to repeat 2nd grade, he was angry about it for weeks.

And some days are more difficult than others. Some days, he can fall asleep by 9 o’clock in our tutoring session. Some days, he can’t sit still in a chair.

You see, there are 5 people staying in the motel room that “J” calls home.  That is one room with 2 double beds and a bathroom. If someone in the room watches TV late or if someone is sick, “J” doesn’t get a good night’s sleep.  And if he doesn’t sleep, it shows in his ability to focus and learn at school.

But “J” the competitor,  “J” the struggling reader, doesn’t give up.

On his recent Measures of Academic Progress test, “J”s score was one of the “Most Improved.” Everyone at Montclaire Elementary shares in this success. They do an incredible job, not only with “J”, but with hundreds of students in similar circumstances.

“J” still struggles with reading. But I picture him as a swimmer in a sea of words, because the word “struggle” defines his spirit of effort and perseverance.

And if he doesn’t give up, how can I?  How can we?

That is why I am an Augustine tutor.

“J” and Ron during a session in the school Media Center.