The tutoring season. It begins toward the end of September, when the kids get settled into their school routines. That’s when Oasis tutors, like Dale “Woody” Woodard, get excited and start doing what they do best: connecting with children one-on-one.
“Through tutoring, the kids gain self-confidence, and I feel good knowing that I played a part in that,” says Woody. “Tutoring helps build their self-esteem, and it leads to success in school and other personal situations. Several parents have told me that their children are now more integrated.”
Finding the connection
When he started tutoring, Woody remembered how his own granddaughter responded when he read to her, so he needed no convincing on the power of providing consistent, one-on-one attention to children with a caring adult. His experiences as a tutor have only reinforced what he knew all along.
“I remember working with a young fellow who had transferred to many different schools. When he arrived here, he felt unconnected and he didn’t open up. But then he told me he liked sports. I brought in a book about basketball players with lots of pictures of players and bios. His eyes lit up; that’s what broke the ice,” Woody says. “After that, he was always ready to go for our sessions, and for fun, we sometimes wadded up paper and shot baskets in the trash can.”
A surprise from the Lt Governor
Since 2006, Woody has provided more than 750 hours of tutoring, helping numerous children in grades K-3 at the Pattonville School District, in suburban St. Louis County. His dedication as a tutor was recently resulted in some unexpected recognition.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Woody was presented the Missouri Veterans Service Award for ten years of service as a tutor. He is one of 34 Missouri veterans to receive the 2016 award for exemplary service to their communities. The award was presented by Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, who expressed his appreciation.
“Woody Woodard has touched many lives and helped affect the future for the good,” Lt. Governor Kinder said.
As for Woody, he was surprised and overwhelmed by the honor.
“I never expected something like this as a result of just wanting to help out,” he says.
Woody is an avid reader himself, which is one of the reasons he is so enthusiastic about helping kids with reading. “Books can take you places,” he says. “You can do things through books that you can’t do yourself. With books you can go on lots of exciting adventures.”
When Woody isn’t tutoring, he seeks his own adventures on his motorcycle and teaches motorcycle safety classes.
“Sometimes I ride my motorcycle to school and wear my motorcycle jacket. The kids really like that!” exclaims Woody.
Woody is one of nearly 5,000 Oasis tutors across the country working to provide learning support to thousands of children. Since 1989, Oasis tutors have impacted more than 420,000 children. The program is currently offered in 10 states.
Making a bigger impact – Generation to Generation
Stories like Woody’s are important to inspire more people to get involved. Oasis has an opportunity to do this in a big way as a partner with Generation to Generation, a national social action campaign powered by Encore.org that aims to mobilize one million adults 50+ over 5 years to help young people thrive.
“We need more people like Woody who are passionate about helping kids,” says Jeanne Foster, Oasis National Tutoring Manager. “As an Encore.org partner and leader in intergenerational learning for 27 years, Oasis can share our experience through learning labs in preparing tutors to help children succeed. And we know the children are not the only ones benefiting. Our tutors tell us all the time that they are getting just as much out of the experience as the students.”
The Generation to Generation campaign began November 17. You can get involved by becoming an Oasis tutor. To learn more , visit https://tutoring.oasisnet.org/.