Mentor of The Month in Alexandria

Mentor of The Month in Alexandria

Reaching for Excellence

Leah Swanson with Morgan

Leah Swanson with Morgan

The Concerned Citizens Network of Alexandria (CCNA) created the "Reach and Rise for Excellence" (RARE) after-school mentoring and tutoring program for Hammond Middle School students. The STEM focused program meets four days a week to help students with math, language arts, leadership and life skills which include introduction to entrepreneurship, computer coding, parent engagement and more. Leah Swanson is the RARE Mentor of the Month.

Leah is in her second year as a math tutor for RARE students, helping them do online math drills as a blended approach to improve their skills.

“Most of the math I do with the students is introductory algebra. We figure out integers, how number lines work, and positive and negative numbers. Some of the students are doing the math of triangles in geometry, too.

“I've been volunteering to work with kids since I was in high school. When I'm with RARE students, I enjoy talking with them about things they enjoy in life outside of math and outside of school. I think it's important that the kids have adults they can talk to who can relate to them who aren't authority figures, just people with some experience to offer.

“It's been interesting to see all the different ways students learn, and how they explain it all. Having them explain a problem, and how to solve it, has shown me there are a lot of ways to do math and think about it. Especially with kids for whom math is not a strong suit, when you talk to them and share enough that they can explain the problem back to you, it's very rewarding. It makes them very proud of themselves.”

One of Leah's students says, “Miss Leah is good at listening to whatever we want to talk about. And she asks us a lot of questions that make us think.”

Be a math tutor (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) at RARE. Volunteers are needed to help RARE students drill on VMath Live, an online instructional tool for common core-aligned math instruction. To learn more, contact Bill Corbett at RARE is a member of the Alexandria Mentoring Partnership (AMP). AMP was created in 2006 to ensure that quality mentors and mentor programs are available for Alexandria's youth and young adults in need. January is National Mentoring Month and AMP program members are hosting various activities this month. To learn more about AMP and the activities taking place in January, visit: