Our September mentor of the month is Tom McBride. Tom is currently a mentor at Windsor Elementary School. He has been mentoring with Everybody Wins! Iowa for over 13 years and was a recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer Award in 2016.
Tom grew up with books and learned early on in his life the importance of literature. Growing up, his mother read to him ever since he could remember.
“(My mother) was a very strong advocate of reading,” Tom said. “As you get older, you realize just how important it is to be able to read and comprehend things. I know that’s one of the reasons why I did well in school was because I was able to read, I liked to read, and I could comprehend what I was reading.”
Tom was nominated for the Governor’s Award by Windsor Elementary School’s Site Coordinator for Everybody Wins! Iowa, Jan Fitzsimons.
“He is a neighbor who wants to give back to his own local school,” Fitzsimons wrote.
During the 2015-2016 school year, Tom was paired with a fourth-grade student named Hai. At the start of the year, Hai was pretty sullen about reading, but with time, Tom helped Hai gain confidence in his reading ability and helped Hai take the reigns of his future.
“Tom realized early on, that his student, Hai, had a keen interest in history, wars, geography and world cultures but was lacking in even the most basic concept of these topics,” Fitzsimons wrote. “Tom sought out Hai’s teacher, asking her for some guidance on genre. Tom brought in his own historical books to spark interest. He, finally, found books of a variety of topics, and before long I saw smiles, interest, and the two of them leaning over the pages of their book. Hai, formerly a refugee, is connecting with his new community and nation.”
Tom says that one of the most interesting things over the number of years that he’s been with the program is the range of students that he’s worked with.
“Some years it’s been a little challenging; some years it’s been easier,” Tom said. “I’ve read with all kinds of students with all different abilities and from all different parts of the world. I should have probably kept a list!”
When asked what it means to be a mentor with Everybody Wins! Iowa, Tom said that it gives him a sense of satisfaction to help kids that are in need since Tom doesn’t have any kids himself.
“I think it’s always important to do things that are not self-absorbed and try and reach out and help other people,” Tom said. “It gives me a sense of satisfaction being able to do that.”