Teaching Life’s Lessons
That’s exactly how Scott, now a young man, feels about Jerry.
“My passions were different from everybody else, so it was really important to have someone to talk to who understood,” Scott says. “Mr. Swinehart challenged me when regular school didn’t.”
Scott’s mom, Peggy Decker, adds, “Jerry encouraged Scott and let him know that even though he was a kid, he had a lot to contribute and a lot to learn. That kept him motivated.”
Those lessons continue to form the foundation of Scott’s ongoing achievement. He utilized his mechanical expertise to pursue studies in Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) at Pike High School before his 2017 graduation. Last summer he proved his prowess by placing 4th in the nation for HVAC at the prestigious SkillsUSA competition, a rare achievement for a first-time competitor.
Today, he is a student at IVY Tech in the Paramedic and EMT program. And he continues to tinker. Currently, Scott is working on a couple of inventions that will make chainsaws much safer.
Last fall, Oasis arranged for Jerry and Scott to meet and catch up. “It was great to see how far Scotty has come.” Jerry says. “I’ve tutored 30 youngsters in my 16 years with Oasis. It’s always special to see the impact that tutoring has had on their lives.”
Young Is As Young Thinks
But the kids aren’t the only winners in the tutoring relationship. “I’m 81 and if I only associated with people my age, I’d have an old person’s outlook,” Jerry notes. “Being around young people keeps my outlook and my attitude young.”
Gerald Johnson, a St. Louis Oasis tutor at McKelvey Elementary, echoes Jerry’s sentiment. “I get energy from being around kids,” Gerald explains. “I learn from them too, especially about technology and slang. I don’t think as old as I am.”
Gerald is committed to recruiting more men of color to become tutors. “A lot of times students don’t have someone to talk with about certain things,” Gerald says. “They know they can ask me anything and I’ll get them an answer. I become more than a reading tutor; I am also a mentor and a friend.”
Excellence Yields Distinction for Oasis
The experiences of Jerry, Kathleen and Gerald are not unique. Across the nation 4,500 Oasis tutors in 20 cities improve the lives and learning of thousands of K-3 students each year. In the 2017 evaluation by partner schools, 100 percent of principals said Oasis tutors were a positive part of their school, while 96 percent of teachers reported improved confidence and self-confidence, and 93 percent saw improved academic performance.
It’s statistics like these that helped earn Oasis the 2017 Program of Distinction designation from Generations United. “We are one of only 32 programs since 2009 to achieve this status,” notes Jeanne Foster, Oasis national tutoring director. “Oasis tutoring provides meaningful opportunities for both children and older adults while serving the entire community. Our volunteers are absolutely the best. This is an honor we should all be proud of.”
In further support of our volunteers, Oasis is partnering with the Generation to Generation campaign sponsored by Encore.org. Over the next five years, the campaign seeks to mobilize one million older adults to commit to working with children. Jeanne added, “With a retention rate of 80 percent among our Oasis tutors, we are set to lead the way in this campaign.”
Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring is made possible with support from a number of funders across the country. For a complete list of all Oasis partners and funders, click here.