DTE Energy employees help improve students’ reading skills with TutorMate

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There was no hesitation from Caniff Service Center employees when asked to help improve the education of several first grade, bilingual students at Munger Elementary School in Southwest Detroit. Substations manager Mike Baum gathered 17 of his employees back in February to spend just 30 minutes a week, over the internet, to help a student with basic reading concepts.

“This is the coolest community service project I have ever been involved in and a great way to make a difference in the community,” said Baum. “Watching kids progress from start to end is very rewarding, especially knowing the 30 minutes a week you spend with your student is really impacting their education.”

After working with their chosen student for a couple months, Caniff employees were given the chance to meet with them in person for the first time, and it was one heartwarming moment!

As employees entered Mrs. Crossfield’s first grade classroom, the students immediately got excited and anxious to meet their tutor. DTE goodie bags were passed out to each student upon arrival, which included a flashlight, lightbulb squeeze toy and a reading book. All of the students were thrilled by the gift they received and had no hesitation to start digging in.

When it was finally time for employees to meet their student, the students had nothing but love and appreciation for their tutors. Students greeted them with a handwritten thank-you card, a huge hug and a loud, “thank you.” Each tutor was taken back to their student’s desk to get in-person, one-on-one time with each other.

“My student went from a level four reading level to a nine since I have been helping him,” said Vicente Sanchez, field supervisor, Substations. “Listening to him read now, versus our first couple weeks together, has been such a positive change in direction for him. If he doesn’t know a word, he sounds it out and fixes it all on his own now.”

Baum and his team are already talking about starting TutorMate with students again in the fall, with even more volunteer tutors.

If you would like to be a part of this easy, 30-minutes-a-week program, visit the TutorMate website.