In Two Hours, You Can Change a Life

(Jennifer Doak tutors in the Tuesday Night Reading program and volunteered to blog about her experiences.)

Two hours isn’t really that much time, when you think about it. Oh sure, it might be a long time to wait for a Metro train or listen to your boss talk about leveraging synergy. But two hours spent on the couch watching 30 Rock reruns or a college basketball game goes by pretty fast.

So does two hours of helping a kid learn. Sure, it might be hard to tear yourself away from mindlessly refreshing Facebook while Tracy Morgan does something ridiculous (…from what I hear anyway, because I’ve totally never done this, ever). But it’s infinitely more rewarding.

In two hours, you can help a sixth-grader understand the different meanings of the word “rig.” You can cheer when she aces a vocabulary test. Two hours spent over the course of several months will reward you with a measurable increase in the student’s progress.

I’ve been tutoring with FLOC for about seven months now. Over that period of time, I’ve probably missed 70 hours of quality comedy shows and NCAA hoops. Instead, I have the privilege of working with an awesome kid. We’re reading Lizzie McGuire books and learning about blended syllables and playing Boggle. She’s kicking butt on her quizzes and makes a genuine effort to learn every lesson—even though she’s already had a full day of school.

And you know what? I don’t really miss it. I have four other days to flop on the couch with mindless TV and a glass of wine. Taking two hours a week to set aside work stress and go back to the fundamentals of language is just as decompressing and far more gratifying. If your tutee can sacrifice two hours of Hannah Montana to boost her grades, then you can give up your reality shows and help her succeed.

Tina Fey and the Big East can wait for a little while. I’ve got more important things to do.

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