BOSTON (CBS) — There are plenty of adults who want to help young people but who worry they don’t have enough time or knowledge to volunteer. There are students in Boston who could use extra help with their schoolwork. Boston Partners in Education (BPiE) is a group in Boston that is ready to bring those two groups of people together.
Jailiany Baez is a quiet, sweet 11-year-old sixth-grader at the Hennigan School in Jamaica Plain. Her favorite subject is math, but she didn’t always love it, in fact, she needed a little extra help.
Her teacher, Glenda Von den Benken could tell Jailiany was capable, she just needed more individual attention. “I thought her having a mentor could maybe boost her confidence in math and really try to pull out what was already there,” Von den Benken said.
Von den Benken turned to BPiE, which places mentors in schools to help kids like Jailiany.
The non-profit was created 54 years ago to get more volunteers inside city classrooms. Last year, more than 600 people volunteered to help over 4,000 students. Anyone with one hour of time to give can be a mentor.
Peter Olive, an engineer from Needham, was matched with Jailiany, and he loves helping her with her math. “I heard about this program, Boston Partners in Education, where you can kind of go where kids need more help, and they don’t have the facilities,” Olive said. He works in the sixth grader’s classroom at the Hennigan for one hour every week.
What has Jailiany learned from Mr. Olive? “Fractions and things that I’m struggling on,” she said. “He’s taught me how to ask for help a lot.”
Von den Benken said the improvement has been dramatic. “She seems to really be enjoying and learning.”
Erin McGrath, the Executive Director of BPiE started as a volunteer herself. She anyone can be a mentor regardless of age, education or job. BPiE offers training and matches volunteers with the child who will benefit best from them as a mentor.
“There’s an opportunity to help a child reach their full potential, the chance to see them actually grasp a concept for the first time or say they believe in themselves, that’s the most important thing,” McGrath said.
Olive said being involved with the non-profit is the highlight of his week. “It’s phenomenally challenging but it’s phenomenally rewarding. It’s a commitment of one hour a week so that’s easy peasy, it’s the same hour every week,” he said. “When you go back to a school a second year, and you’re walking down the hallway going to a class and you hear kids shout out from other classrooms that you met the previous year, like ‘Hey Mr. Olive!’ you kind of feel like a rock star!”
McGrath is also running the Boston Marathon in April to raise money for BPiE.
If you’d like to be a volunteer, visit BPiE’s website.