When there's a call for help, Glenn Drumm answers it. So last fall, when he heard Mount Pleasant Elementary School needed volunteer tutors, the retired naval master chief petty officer decided to respond.
Glenn got in touch with Kristen Lavoie at the school and began going three mornings a week to help students with math.
So now Glenn meets with a few fifth-graders at a time, giving them that little bit of extra one-on-one attention they need but can't always get in a full and busy classroom.
Now he has another assignment he also works on Thursday mornings with the math superstars, the brightest students. Once a week they get more challenging problems. They meet with Mr. Drumm to work through them together. Initially, Glenn led the group; now he designates a different student each week to be the leader, under his supervision.
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I asked Glenn whether he is ever challenged by new ways to do math or new terminology. He said at times he goes to see math teacher Kima Kluttz for a quick explanation of a new concept. But numbers haven't changed much, so he adapts readily.
What he really enjoys learning is the new technology for teaching. He said smart boards are amazing, and he likes seeing all the methods teachers use.
Glenn has high praise for the teachers. From where he sits, he can see into each classroom; he said they all work very hard.
But for all that work, sometimes students need extra help. Glenn said he sympathizes, because that's how he was in school. He was the kid who was frustrated because he just couldn't understand.
Now, he said, it's wonderful to work with a child and suddenly see their light bulb go on. Often, it doesn't take a lot of time or effort; sometimes a child just needs a little clarification, or a new perspective.
Glenn is happy to provide it. He can draw on his experiences to help students. Recently he told his math superstars about a time in the Navy when he needed to use the Pythagorean theorem but couldn't remember it. they learned math really does get used in the real world.
Glenn can't understand why there aren't more school volunteers, especially retired folks. He said the benefits of volunteering are priceless: a sense of self-worth, a connection to the community and to young people, and a mind that stays active and thinking. And he said it sure beats wondering what old movie is coming up next on television. Just a couple of hours a week can make a big difference in a child's life, and in the volunteer's as well.
If you'd like to volunteer, call any school to see how you can help. And if you ever need to know the Pythagorean theorem, check with Glenn Drumm, because now he'll never forget it.