Tutoring needs will still be met

By Walt Bennett

This will be my last article reporting out on the tutoring program.

I have accepted a vice president position with an insurance company based in Monterey, Calif. The moment is bittersweet – the career opportunity is once-in-a-lifetime, the prospect of leaving Enumclaw and all the friendships we have cemented is painful. I will stay away from reporting numbers in this last missive and focus more on the overall vision. When I was young, my father took my brothers and I on extended backpacking trips every year. One of the most important things he taught me through these adventures was low-impact camping. Always leave things better than they were when you got there. (For our stranded neighbors who are wondering if this principle applies to the Mississippi Delta-sized silt pile left over from the pressure washing of our driveway in preparation for putting our home on the market –yes, it will be gone before we are. And if you need any supplies in the interim, just let us know – we would be happy to pick them up for you).

The tutoring program was meant from the start to be a medium to bring the community to the table with the educational needs of our youth. I think we have done this. In just over two years, we have provided more than 7,700 hours of free tutoring in subjects ranging from beginning reading to advanced placement calculus.

In my heart of hearts, I am hopeful that the program will continue after our departure. I am currently involved in dialogue with a nonprofit organization serving youth in our community. The hope is that they will take the program over and take it to levels that I never could.

I will take the last bit of this column to acknowledge those who have been so instrumental in the success of this program:

Enumclaw Rotary – without your support of money and tutors, I don’t know if we would have made it past the first year.

Mutual of Enumclaw – for providing initial funding and ongoing support, not to mention the flexibility in my work schedule to keep the program ticking.

Kid’s Base – for providing an amazing facility that allowed us to set up a unique learning experience for every student who crossed our threshold.

Mike Nelson, Gerrie Garton, Terry Parker and everyone at the Enumclaw School District – for embracing our efforts and providing us with a conduit to the students.

Skynet Broadband – Chuck has, at no cost, piped Internet into the tutoring center and hosted our Web sites since we first opened our doors.

The Courier Herald – and Bill Marcum – for giving me column inches each month to report to the community.

The amazing tutors – all volunteers: Cindy, Joan, Mark, Ollie, Peter, Lorraine, Monica, Lauren, Kurt, Suzi, Karleen, George, Michael, Tami, Bryan, Larry, Myung, Daphne, Earlene, Bob, Pat, John, Alan, Ioan, Stets, Tom, Darius, Wendy, Reginia, Catherine – and any others who have given their time to help our students succeed.

Bob Howie - who I met when I was desperately recruiting tutors before our first year, seated outside QFC with my card table and my daughter – Bob not only was instrumental in getting all of our computer systems running, but he took on the challenge of getting the Buckley/White River program started and has built that program to the point that it is bursting its seams.

I hope we have left our campsite here better than it was before we arrived.

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