City students eager to learn

At 8:15 one recent morning, I walked into an elementary school classroom. One of the  second-grade girls I tutor saw me and her face lit up. I sat with her and another second-grade girl, with worksheets about words with “ay” or “ai” in them. The girls vied for my attention, each wanting to show me each answer they figured out.

“Brain rhymes with train!”

“Did you know that ‘ay’ is usually at the end of a word?”

Around the room, two other volunteers and the teacher were working closely with other students.

At 8:50 a.m., I was sitting at a table in a classroom down the hall. My fourth-grade buddy walked in and smiled at me. She happily read aloud to me a story about a pilot and answered questions about it. We talked about what we knew about planes and flying. She told me she had flown to Puerto Rico. We made inferences about the pilot, since that concept was our focus for that session.

At 9:25 a.m., I sat waiting for a group of fifth-graders to walk in. The teacher was rounding up the students, all at the same reading level, for our intervention session. A boy whom I usually work with peeked his head into the classroom and darted back out. “Ms. Chris is here!” I heard him say. That was at least my third smile in just over an hour.

This is not always the image you see or hear about in the Rochester City School District.

But that’s where I was, at a city elementary school. I was one of 42 volunteers in that building this week, providing 111 hours of one-on-one or small-group support. As we do each week.

My inference is that low state test scores don’t sum up the students or their effort.

And I am grateful for the students’ excitement and eagerness to learn.

(If you are willing to volunteer in city schools, I’d be glad to connect you. E-mail


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