The Glaring Gaps in a Pandemic

Tracy is one of our most dedicated and passionate volunteers. She has always had a special heart for the high school students at SDRT and shared some of her thoughts and experiences with us.

I joined SDRT a few years ago and very quickly realized it was a place I wanted to invest my time. I started working with the high schoolers and became a Lead Tutor my second year. I specifically enjoy working with the older kids for many reasons: they are learning how to become more independent and make autonomous choices; they are SO dang smart; they have awesome jokes and dance moves; and they have incredible dreams for the future.

Earlier last summer, a student with whom I had built a relationship with reached out asking for help getting eyeglasses. She was having frequent headaches and difficulty spending long hours reading or working on the computer. We picked out an optometrist, and I did my best trying to describe what an appointment would be like (COVID protocol meant the student had to go in by herself). After the appointment, we picked up some Thai food – a first for her! – and had a picnic at a park. We talked about growing up, friendships, relationships, jobs, families, and how tasty Pad See Ew is. This student is typically shy so to have a quiet moment to get to know her better was so special.

The effort the students’ families put in to reestablish themselves in an environment that is unfamiliar to them deserves so much respect. It became evident to me that even when our kids were showing up and putting in the extra work, the school system itself seemed to be falling short in meeting all of their needs. This helped me narrow in on a future career path and directed my post graduate degree towards a master’s in social work, specifically in a school setting.

The challenges of COVID have been compounded for so many of our older students. Middle and High school has subjects that challenge our students in any normal circumstance. Now, they are tasked with distance learning, helping younger siblings, completing household chores, and losing friendships. Having consistent connection with tutors and friends is an imperative protective factor. I am so thankful for the friendships built over the years at SDRT and look forward to being able to laugh and dance together in person again!

About Mimi Lee

Mimi started volunteering for SDRT in 2016 and currently serves as its Middle & High School Director. She met her husband at SDRT, and they live together in City Heights. She has her Master's in Education and teaching credential in English Language Arts.

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