My friend, Karol Matthews, has been instrumental in spearheading a tutoring program called “The ROC” (Reach Out Charlotte) in a low-income area in North Charlotte. Since September 2010 she and a small group of dedicated individuals have gathered once a week to tutor children after school in an apartment donated by the management. Karol pulls together all her years of expertise with the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching reading, both with the students she tutors and the willing adult volunteers who have had little or no formal training.
When The Fletcher School, where Karol and I teach, put out an appeal for suggestions for a Middle School service project, Karol couldn’t get to the office fast enough. The school embraced the idea and before long, a spirited plan evolved. Approximately 75 students brought in shoeboxes filled with small toys, toiletries, school supplies, mittens and hats, modeled after Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.
On the last day of school before Christmas break the students worked in mixed-age groups to organize and wrap the boxes, write personal letters to the recipients, and make a card for the family. Many of the letters that these privileged students with learning disabilities wrote to the less fortunate recipients of the boxes brought smiles and tears to more than one teacher.
Today I was privileged to take part in the party where the boxes were distributed to an appreciative crowd of children and young adults, along with a message of hope and warm coats that were generously donated by some who got wind of the project and wanted to make a contribution.
As one of the students at The Fletcher School said, “I hope they enjoy opening this as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.” We teachers call that a “teachable moment,” and I can assure you, the moment was well received today.