Boston Partners in Education is always recruiting volunteer academic mentors. We search for volunteers from the community and local businesses.  The opportunity to work in a classroom in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) appeals to many different people, from all walks of life.

This week is National Volunteer Week and each day we will profile a different person who represents one of the many types of volunteers who work in BPS through Boston Partners in Education.
Today you can read about Michael Macchi. Michael is currently a senior at Boston University. Undergraduate and graduate students make wonderful volunteers.  They often have some extra time to give and a flexible schedule. Many universities in the city encourage their students to get involved with the community and offer benefits to those who do!
Michael Macci with student
What program do you serve with?
I serve with the School Volunteer Program at the Hennigan Elementary School in Jamaica Plain. I am a literacy mentor and for the past two years I have worked in Ms. Sequeira’s third grade classroom.

What is your major?
I major in Psychology and minor in Education. I hope to become a teacher in BPS, working specifically with special needs students. I’ve learned so much from my time serving as a volunteer academic mentor in a BPS classroom. In fact, in my courses at BU, I frequently refer to my experiences at the Hennigan in class discussions and papers.

Why did you choose this organization?
Going into my junior year, I had an inkling that wanted to be a teacher. So, I did my research and looked into different volunteer opportunities in BPS. Boston Partners was the first that caught my eye because it seemed very established and organized. Luckily, this turned out to be the case! Because Boston Partners’ services are available to any BPS teacher, I was able to be placed at the Hennigan, the school in which my mother has worked as a paraprofessional.

How many kids have you served with us?
Last year I worked with one fourth grade boy and this year I work with one third grade boy.  While these two students were the only ones nominated to receive my support, other students are often eager to receive my attention as well.

What other charitable work, if any, do you do?
I volunteer as a little league baseball coach. I also am an assistant debate coach at a Catholic high school.

How do you feel your experiences as a student yourself have influenced the way you approach working with your mentees?
Growing up, when I needed help in school, I didn’t like it when a teacher would pressure me for an answer.  So now, working with my student, I try to let him figure out the answer on his own. I do my best to only guide him as needed. This way, the student feels more accomplished about finding the correct answer.

Also, having attended several Boston Public Schools, including the Hennigan in 4th and 5th grade, I feel as though I’m able to better understand the school atmosphere. I know that there is diversity within the school and that not all of the students are coming from similar backgrounds.

What do you like the most about mentoring?
I really enjoy seeing the student I’m working with figure out the right answer. I can see how this makes the student feel good, simply by looking at his face. Additionally, it makes me feel good to see that my time with my student with is actually helping.

My experiences though Boston Partners have definitely reconfirmed my desire to teach in the Boston Public Schools. My academic mentor experience has also led me to learn about myself. I think the patience (among other things) I’ve developed when working with students will be something I carry with me throughout my career to come.

Do you have any funny stories about mentoring with us?
Sometimes I go to recess with the class. Playworks has a presence at the Hennigan, so they usually facilitate organized games at this time.  More than once, the kids have ended up working together to try to get me eliminated from the game. It’s funny because there are so many kids trying to get me out, and I can’t do anything to help it!

Do you have any inspiring stories?
I feel every time I go to the school something inspirational happens. Even my student getting one question right means that he is on a better track in school. I think that is inspiration in itself.