Ellen Davis, a volunteer at the Thomas J. Kenny Elementary School in Dorchester, has been nominated by Boston Partners in Education – an organization that recruits and trains in-school volunteers – for its Mentor of the Year award.
A retired math teacher, Davis volunteers her efforts working with small groups from two third-grade math classes three or four days a week. She also works with three fifth-grade boys one day a week to fill in some of their learning gaps.
“Unlike the classroom teachers who have a lot of responsibilities, my only responsibility is to go in and be present and assist with the math learning,” said Davis. “Teachers are thinking about what’s impacting the students, what their home lives are like, and what assessment they’re doing next, but I can really focus my energy on one small area and that really makes a difference.”
Davis’s contributions to the school staff and the service she provides to the students have become an integral part of the overall classroom culture at the Kenny, says Sue Li, a Boston Partners in Education staffer who originally nominated Davis for the award.
“Ellen’s dedication to students at the Kenny School really stands out among a pool of hundreds of very committed Boston Partners mentors,” said Li. “We ask our volunteers to commit to spending at least one hour per week for the duration of the school year with their mentees. Ellen serves over 15 hours each week!”
“She has worked hard to integrate herself into the fabric of the school and is recognized by the staff and principal as someone who’s a part of their community, someone who provides critical support to their students and teachers,” said Li. “Ellen has become so respected at the Kenny that other teachers have begun requesting her specifically to serve as a mentor in their classrooms, too.”
Boston Partner’s Mentor of the Year award will be presented at an academic mentor party on Tues., June 11.
“Volunteering at a school is really rewarding and I encourage people who have the time to explore it. I can’t say how wonderful it is to get to work with these kids and how much it can change your mood to walk into a classroom and have one or more of the kids ask how you’re doing and if they’re going to get to work with you that day,” said Davis. “I feel like I’m getting more out of volunteering than the kids and the school are, and I think it’s just a wonderful opportunity.”