Guest Writer: Michael Gilleo, Math Enrichment Tutor at Northeast College Prep in Minneapolis, MN
On a Friday morning in late March, I walked into my classroom and found a stack of handmade thank-you cards on my desk. On top of the pile was a sticky note with “From your 5th graders” and a heart scribbled on it. I only work with six kids from 5th grade, but all 24 students in the class had made me a card. Except for the students in Math Corps, the only interaction I have with their class is during the last hour of the school day on Fridays. During this time I hang out in their classroom, helping with projects or playing games. I later talked to their classroom teacher and she told me that the whole class had elected to make me cards during recess. I asked what I had done to earn such a gift.
“I don’t think it was specifically anything you did,” she told me. “These kids are smart, they can just tell. They’ve grown up in a lot of different environments, and they can sense when someone really cares about them. They know that you care and I think they appreciate that more than anything.”
My goal had always been to make a difference in my students’ lives, but I thought I was limited to the kids I tutored in Math Corps. I quickly realized that “my students” were not just the ones I tutored—I had been able to impact an entire classroom.
I love when students come into my room before school to say good morning, or ask if they can stay with me for recess. It is even more rewarding when a student asks if they can call home to share their most recent benchmark score, or when their parents tell me that they talk about Math Corps all the time at home. Not only have I developed a positive and fun relationship with my students, but they have also taken an active role in their learning and are proud to share that with others.
Your experience serving with Math Corps (and Reading Corps) will be what you make it. When I was considering becoming a tutor, I was going to take a gap year after graduating so that I could apply to medical school. I wanted to spend that year doing something that would help me grow as a person and better prepare me for the career of a physician. Since serving with Math Corps, I have been accepted to the University of Minnesota Medical School and will start classes there this August!