This week's guest blog comes from Jenna Campbell, a Westside volunteer from Christ Presbyterian Church. Christ Presbyterian is a partner church alongside Free Methodist, Holy Cross, and Pueblo FMC in the Westside Church Collaborative, which started in 2013 and now has a one-on-one Westside tutoring program as well as a school-based literacy program at Harding School.
My name is Jenna, and it has been my privilege to participate in the Westside Church Collaborative’s tutoring program on the Westside for the past year. Through the tutoring program, I have seen God at work in my life and in the lives of my student and his mom, and we have experienced God’s blessing as a result.
God has been working in my life in the ways he is changing my motivations for love and service. I am a very achievement-motivated person, and I like to see results right away in the projects that I am working on. This is also true in situations in which I am in a teaching role with students—I feel successful when they progress quickly. However, this is not always the case, and it is challenging for me to be patient with students who progress more slowly. When my 4th grade tutoring student first started with me, he was scoring low in reading and also had some behavior issues. When we met for tutoring, he often challenged my authority on how long our reading sessions would be that day. Although he has improved this year in being kind and respectful, he still will often argue with me and not want to participate in reading. God has reminded me that my identity is not found in whether I am a “good tutor” and can transform this student into someone who loves reading and learning. Rather, my identity is found in Christ. And I am called to faithfully serve and love those around me, even if they do not appreciate or reciprocate that love. However, it is a blessing that my tutoring family DOES appreciate my time and service. It has been a pleasure for me to build a relationship with my student’s mom. She has expressed sincere gratitude for my involvement in her son’s life, and her limited English has given me a fun opportunity to practice my Spanish skills.
In addition, there are many sweet moments of interaction with my student that have made the tutoring experience a real joy. At one of our recent sessions, my student was excited to find a particular book from a series that he had borrowed from a friend. I was able to help him find the book in the library, and we read it together. He was drawn into the story and captivated by the illustrations (why don’t ALL children’s books have pictures on every page?) Rather than asking “How much longer?”, my student was content to continue reading beyond our normal session time, and we stayed almost until the library closed. As we left, he and his mom checked out the book so he could continue reading it at home. I was thrilled to see him so excited in that moment about reading.
God has been so good to provide this tutoring program as a way for me to be a blessing to a family in our community. And through serving, I have been richly blessed as well.