Nine years ago Nancy Whitaker had a dream and believed that she was being called to teach children to read. Rather than just tucking the dream away, she decided to take action. Nancy works at Landstar and decided to reach out to her nearest public school, Chets Creek Elementary, and volunteer some time during lunch. Before long it was obvious to Nancy that Chets Creek had many, many students that she could help but it was too many for her to help alone. She enlisted her colleague Sandy Adams and they in turn enlisted the colleagues in their office to join them during their lunch time at the school.
Nine years later, Nancy, with Sandy's most capable assistance, heads the Landstar Tutoring program that has touched hundreds of first graders over the years. They bring 30-40 tutors each year who come for a half hour during lunch and read one-on-one with a specific student. During lunch on Tuesdays - Wednesdays - Thursdays you can see them in the hallways in children-sized chairs or in the Media Center sitting side by side quiety talking and laughing and reading together. More recently we have even been able to match some of our Second Language Learners with native speaking tutors from Landstar! Over the years the program has grown to include chess tutors who come to teach our gifted students to play chess and offer them challenging chess matches. We also have a large group of mentors, many of them men, who mentor some of our 4th and 5th grade students under the direction of Liz Duncan, our Behavior Therapist. All of this - because one woman had a dream and acted on it.
A couple of years ago a parent called me to complain that her 1st grader needed a Landstar tutor. She explained that her older child had had a tutor and that had made all the difference. I explained to her that we just didn't have enough tutors to include her 1st grader. She was quite frustrated with me and said, "Well, where can I buy that Landstar program. I'll just buy it and teach it to my child myself!" But that's the whole point, you can't buy this program - there's not enough money in the world - because it's about relationships. It's about service.
This year our PTA selected Nancy Whitaker as our PTA Volunteer of the Year. I can't think of a better choice. Nancy has never had a child at Chets Creek. She gives because she is called - servant leadership. Oh, that we all could follow her example...