Calvin Leonard

Shaker Heights, OH

"It is my joy to see the light in a child's face when they understand."

I worked in the field of manufacturing for over 25 years, for companies such as Sherwin Williams and United States Can. In 1995, due to illness, I moved to Cleveland, Ohio. A few years ago, I was motivated to embark on this “encore” because I was no longer working and wanted to give back to my community.

Through the organization Greater Cleveland Volunteers, I work two to three days a week as a stipended Experience Corps volunteer tutor in a local public school. I work with six to eight children a day, in grades kindergarten through third, focusing on literacy.

I was fortunate enough to receive a college education. I was blessed to have the ability to learn somewhat quickly. Everyone is not granted that gift and so today I have an opportunity to help children who struggle. I have the opportunity to encourage and exhort little people to do the best they can. I tell them that sometimes we have to work harder to understand things than other students, but that it is okay. I like to say “I tutor, encourage and show kindness and respect.” I so want them to learn to read because, without reading, you are lost.

I am helping students to pronounce words, sound out words and comprehend what they are reading. I am also instilling the fact that they can learn and that they are somebody. “€œHold up your head and look people in the eye when you talk to them” is what I tell my students. “If you want to get better, you must practice.€ You practice sports to get better, so practice reading to get better.”

It is my joy to see the light in a child’s face when they understand.

The bonus is that you not only help and motivate children. You also develop relationships with your fellow tutors and the teachers. I have friends today I never would have had if not for tutoring.

What I’€™d like the world to know is that older people are just older. That’s all. We still bring enthusiasm, creativity, joy, commitment and experience to whatever we do. We are doing this because we have a passion to help. If you have a passion for what you do, you do it well.

(Learn more about the Experience Corps program in your area.)

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