McKelvey Elementary School volunteer Geraldine Johnson joined the Oasis Tutoring program because she wants to share her gift.
"A gift for encouragement and that's what this is all about," said Johnson. "This school, McKelvey I love it. I simply love it because they embrace the children, they love the children."
Oasis is a one-on-one tutoring program to help students improve reading skills. Johnson works with students who struggle to read as well as students who want more challenging material to read. She also enjoys the opportunity to mentor.
"They need that one on one so that they can understand that they're valuable, they're loved, they're worthy to be here on this earth, and they will accomplish anything they want to if they just try," said Johnson.
A few years ago, Gerald Johnson, Geraldine's husband of 43 years, was complaining after reading an article about students graduating high school but unable to read. Johnson was frustrated about the so-called school to prison pipeline.
"I was seeing some stats talking about kids coming out of elementary, not being able to read, going on to high school and graduating and not being able to read," said Gerald Johnson. "Over 50 percent of them are going to jail."
Geraldine listened before telling her husband to put up or shut up.
"If you're complaining about it, you’re thinking that something needs to be done, then you need to do something about it then. So, you should participate, said Geraldine. "Be part of the solution."
Six years later, Gerald's photo is on the Oasis brochure used to recruit volunteers. When he began his training to be a tutor, Gerald quickly noticed a gender gap. Most of the volunteers were women.
"There was maybe three men there and 50 women. Nothing against the women or anything, but we need more men," said Gerald.
Gerald has begun recruiting more men to be Oasis tutors because he's seen firsthand that tutors make a difference for the elementary students. Recently a former student told him just that.
"He said, 'Mr. Johnson, I really appreciate what you did for me at the last two years with my reading because it's helped me better in middle school.'"
For more information on Oasis, contact your local school district or click here.