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December 7, 2017

LA teen tutor founds Reading Partners 'club' at her school

High schoolers have a lot on their plates these days. Mounting pressures to push their GPAs sky-high and get perfect SAT scores while also maintaining a steady stream of extracurriculars can make committing to weekly volunteering seem daunting.

Making time to volunteer

Charlotte Gendler, a high school junior at Los Angeles’ Marlborough High School, was interested in the idea of becoming a weekly volunteer reading tutor when she first learned about the opportunity through Reading Partners. But, was intimidated by the idea of committing to a weekly session.

She decided to sign up anyway and try it out for a while. After a few weeks, she knew she was hooked and she couldn’t imagine leaving her student who was counting on her to come back each week. She soon realized that an ongoing commitment, while daunting, meant the chance to connect with her student in a way that a one-time experience would never allow. Today, she is grateful that she stuck with the program.

“I think a lot of the time when you’re volunteering, it can be hard to tell if you’re having an impact. With Reading Partners, you can build a relationship with a student and watch them grow,” Charlotte muses. “I thought this was something students at my school would really enjoy.”

Rallying the school community in service

Now in her third year of tutoring, Charlotte has gone above and beyond to get students at her school involved in Reading Partners. This year, Charlotte founded a Reading Partners club at her school, through which students and teachers can join together to tutor in a nearby LA elementary school, and then share and discuss experiences.

“My goal for the club is to have a group of really committed student and faculty volunteers who will tutor at Reading Partners every week. Right now there are around ten members, and there are lots of other students interested in becoming involved.”

She believes that investing in the community to bring about positive change is something that people should be thinking about as early as high school.

“I would really like to build a connection between Reading Partners and my school because I think it’s a great way to be engaged with the community and make a difference, and I know this is something a lot of students at my school are interested in doing.”

Realizing the mutual benefits of volunteerism

By founding a Reading Partners club at her school, Charlotte has single-handedly increased the number of students Reading Partners is able to enroll in the mid-city LA area, significantly. She loves sharing her experiences with her classmates in order to motivate them to get involved. Her story is a particularly sweet one:

“I started tutoring two years ago at Carthay Center Elementary, and I worked with a kindergartener named Jaden. The first day I was a little bit intimidated by the curriculum and the daunting task of trying to teach someone to read when I didn’t have a lot of experience. I quickly realized that the program was incredibly easy to follow and I had a lot of support from Reading Partners to confirm he was making progress. When I first met Jaden he barely spoke English, and by the end of the year he had gained a lot of confidence in reading and I had developed a great relationship with him.”

For Charlotte, Reading Partners has turned into much more than something she can put on her college applications.

“Whenever I have a stressful week, I always look forward to going to Reading Partners because it’s such a warm environment and the kids are so enthusiastic.” Thank you, Charlotte, for inspiring your fellow high schoolers to be a part of our mission and give back to their community!

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