FOX POINT – Matt Honigman doesn’t just tutor to do some good, he also does it for himself.
“I feel like it’s extremely rewarding that you are building a relationship with a student who you would probably never see in our sheltered existence,” he said, referring to life in the suburbs. Honigman, of Whitefish Bay, is one of 15 tutors who participates weekly with Congregation Shalom’s central city program, in partnership with Our Next Generation of Milwaukee.
“I do it because the educational setting that I’m in has some diversity but it’s a suburban district,” Honigman said.
In a way, tutoring Kinsgton, 12, every Thursday is a break.
His third-grade classes at Maple Dale School in Fox Point are over and he’s out the door at 3:45 p.m., making it just in time for his 4 p.m. session
“On my way to Shalom, the drive itself is just a recollection of the day and successes and failures throughout the day,” Honigman said. When he sees Kinsgton’s face, it’s all forgotten.
He has 19 kids in class at Maple Dale and is spread thin like any teacher, he said, so he appreciates the one-on-one time with Kingston. “I cherish that time,” he said. “I don’t get that very often during the day.”
Honigman joined the tutoring program when it started in the last academic year, after Rabbi Noah Chertkoff gave a High Holidays sermon that called for more involvement with the city of Milwaukee. It spoke to Honigman.
“On the High Holidays you’re always thinking deeply about your life and making things better,” Honigman said.
Honigman said he knows of research indicating that students living in poverty, especially students of color, are much more likely to succeed if they have mentors in their lives. “Consistent mentors,” he added. “Not a one shot deal.”
“This is a maximum impact project. It’s fact-to-face time for 60 minutes.”
“You sit down at the table and you do your thing; you grow your relationship.”
“Oftentimes we get stuck within our own families and trying to do what’s best for our own families,” he said. “I’m just very thankful that this opportunity came about.”