Stepping onto the campus at Our Lady’s School (OLS), you can’t help but feel that the school’s tradition of nurturing the spiritual, academic, social, and cultural growth of its students is alive and well. As San Diego’s oldest Catholic elementary school, OLS traces its roots back to 1912 and has been supported by the Jesuits since the 1970s. The school is a longtime Partner Agency for IVC, and this year three IVC members are contributing to the school’s mission of preparing students for lives of service and leadership.
Like in most schools, especially in under-resourced communities, OLS students struggled to keep pace with math and reading progress during the pandemic. Beginning in the last school year, IVC Volunteer Terrie Teegarden, a retired college math professor, began individual and group math tutoring at OLS and now volunteers two days a week there. Fr. Mike Lee, S.J., the school’s Principal, lauds Terrie for her contributions to improved student math scores.
“When the teacher tells you that someone has finally passed a test or learned something they were really struggling with, that breakthrough and affirmation is the best part about tutoring,” remarks Terrie. She also brings along a tutoring partner during her visits to the school – Star, her licensed and trained therapy dog. Math tutoring gets a whole lot easier when there is a cute, calm, and friendly dog next to you.
“The students just love Star,” says Judy Ziment, the school’s Director. “She gives them a little break from the rigors of school or whatever’s going on and adds that humor and love that they need. And same for the teachers and staff…everyone loves when Star comes to school!”
Working hand in hand with Judy and Fr. Mike is IVC member Lynn Devine who has been volunteering with the school since 2011 as a grant writer. Last year, through grants that Lynn wrote, the school brought in about $200,000 for updated technology, new curriculum, improved security, and more. “I love the fact that I can make a difference for the students,” says Lynn. “I’m using the talents God gave me to change the trajectory for children born into different circumstances from my own. With every grant application I submit, I say a prayer for the students at OLS.”
Judy describes Lynn’s contributions as “invaluable” to the school: “We have worked with IVC for years and years, and the things that volunteers like Lynn have been able to accomplish for us are remarkable. It’s been a great partnership for us.”
Amando Malvar started as a reading and math tutor with 4th graders several months ago. With a background in economics and statistics, Amando retired in 2011 after a career in project development and performance analysis with Scripps Health and other large organizations. Now as an IVC volunteer at Our Lady’s School, he finds reminders of his own Jesuit school upbringing at Ateneo de Manila in The Philippines.
Amando feels a connection with the students he is tutoring. He, too, struggled a bit in elementary school but found eventual success with the help of tutors. “I know what it’s like to feel behind, and how beneficial extra help can be,” he says. “This experience has been a good review for me of all subjects and has challenged me to learn how best to support students,” reflects Amando. “I learn as I go, just like them.”