I love the idea of calling on the “wise elders,” of which I count myself one. I’m an 84-year-old math tutor and retired high school math teacher. This virus wreaked havoc on my tutoring, in which students came to my house in Menlo Park, California, for one hour a week and went home with a handful of notes that we wrote together. That all came to an abrupt halt in mid-March, but my students still needed help.

I’ll admit the learning curve has been steep for me, figuring out Zoom and how to use the small camera I bought to capture my handwritten notes. The student and I talk on Zoom. At the end of the hour, I scan and email my notes to the student. It works out sufficiently well that even after we are released from sheltering, I will offer that option. Some parents can and do pay me, but for now, I offer my services for free or a small fee determined by the parent.

Heretofore, my tutoring earnings have been sent to Kenya to support high school students in the town of Naivasha—where I’ve spent the past 15 summers as a volunteer math teacher. Obviously I’m not going to Kenya this summer and the schools there are closed too, which is heartbreaking.

But using Zoom is allowing me to tutor students from anywhere, including three friends of my granddaughter who lives in San Diego. Just now I was Zooming with one of them, and I could tell he loved what I was explaining—kept saying, “Now that makes so much more sense.” I call that my ear candy.

I feel like I’ve had a very full and fulfilling life. I’m not ready to cash it in, but if it happened, I would not go, feeling “RATS! I wish I’d done something.” No, by and large I’ve done what I wanted to do.

Margo McAuliffe
Executive Director, Kenya Help