“I enjoy reading and I enjoy learning,” said Ms. Janie Simmons. After retiring from a 40+ year career with the government, Ms. Simmons didn’t know what she was going to do. “I wasn’t going to let the dust accumulate under my feet,” she explained.
She happened to read an ad in a local paper about a program called Experience Corps, an AARP Foundation program where volunteers, age 50 years and over, tutor and mentor more than 30,000 Kindergarten-3 rd grade students in 241 schools throughout the country. This piqued her interest enough to attend a short information session where program staff spoke about the mission of the program, “… they explained all about the 25 hours of pre-service and ongoing training, the structured tutoring sessions 2-3 days a week.” She thought “this is something I can do.”
Want to learn more about Experience Corps opportunities in DC? Please attend an upcoming information session this summer.
Ms. Simmons is now in her second year as a tutor/mentor with Experience Corps and she loves it. She started with three students her first year and tutored three days each week. To date she has served as a tutor/mentor for more than 10 students. She tells her students, “I want the very best for you. It is important to learn as much as you can.”
For each of her students Ms. Simmons creates a journal, something she is very proud of. “After our sessions together I want them to walk away with something-maybe to inspire them to keep doing their very best.” Each journal is adorned with motivational stickers, a hand-written letter to the student from Ms. Simmons affirming and encouraging them and a certificate of achievement signed by the teacher and Ms. Simmons. There is plenty of space for them to write their thoughts and hopes for the future. “Every child must be given an opportunity to express themselves,” Simmons insists.
When asked, what she would say to someone who is thinking about becoming an Experience Corps tutor, Ms. Simmons replied, “I’d say, just try it, if just for one year. When you leave a job, maintain a purpose in your life. You’ll be fine. Think about our young people – they need to learn. We can make a difference!”