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April 14, 2016

The evolution of the Tutor Advisory Board

When community volunteers serve as the backbone of a nonprofit, creating space for the volunteer voice is crucial. For Reading Partners Baltimore, that’s when the Tutor Advisory Board steps in. What is the Tutor Advisory Board? Also known as TAB, “[this] group of 14 deeply committed tutors love Reading Partners, want to help, and play a bigger more active role in leadership of the organization as a whole,” says Alissa Ganser, Reading Partners Baltimore’s community engagement director.

Since TAB’s launch in Baltimore last year, it has allowed Reading Partners Baltimore to become a region where its community volunteers have a voice in program strategy and implementation. In order to create a group that would bring diverse perspectives of people on the ground everyday, staff members and site coordinators from each reading center were asked to nominate committed tutors that would be a good fit for the role.

Carrie Greene, one of the 14 original TAB members, has been a dedicated tutor for Reading Partners Baltimore since it opened its first reading center in the city in 2012. Greene confessed, “I was perfectly happy solely tutoring, but TAB enabled me to see the impact [Reading Partners is] making on a deeper level, and meet other wonderful people.” Greene agrees that TAB has proven to be most beneficial for the tutor experience and building a stronger sense of community by hosting various events throughout the year that allow tutors to come together in an informal environment.

“Carrie Greene stepped into the role of our first TAB chair a couple months ago and it’s been a game changer,” states Ganser. Even though TAB celebrated its one year anniversary back in January, it has made leaps and bounds toward evolving into a sustainable team. The first goal Greene tackled in her new role was getting the TAB members together to create a mission statement that would serve as a guide for the group’s decisions and projects that ensure effective literacy instruction in Baltimore City Public Schools. When it comes to the future of TAB, Greene explains that she is most excited about reaching more students and helping literacy grow.

“At the time that TAB first met, we had no tutor events and no tutor communications outside of the monthly newsletters,” says Ganser, “every single event that we do was a product of TAB’s guidance, from the tutor trainings and socials to the tutor roundtables and information sessions.”

This year, TAB has hit the ground running with events, social media promotions and their newest venture, the tutor roundtables. Hosted last month by TAB, the tutor roundtables presented an informal gathering of volunteer tutors where they could share experiences and tutor tips. The goal was to create a unique opportunity for tutors to learn from other tutors allowing the discussions to be as authentic and organic as possible.

“TAB has proven to be most beneficial in encouraging different tutor experiences. We had wanted to build a community, and tutors are very much a part of the whole machine,” explains Greene. Keeping that in mind, TAB will be hosting their second annual Tutor Appreciation Night, a gala event, to wrap up the school year and celebrate all the community volunteers who served with Reading Partners Baltimore. Even though the school year is coming to a close, TAB is already thinking about the future with the hope of launching a new program that will tap into tutors, who are open to increasing their involvement within the organization next year.

According to Ganser, “The evolution of TAB is leading itself in the direction that they are a more organic group and the leadership will be shaped within, instead of from staff, so that the tutor voice remains a more authentic part of TAB.” As TAB continues to solidify its foundation, it’s safe to assume that the Baltimore community’s voice will continue to drastically shape students’ academic success.

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