For years, businessman Collyer Smith has tutored children in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti through local organizations, including the Family Learning Institute. He has learned that you have to make tutoring fun for the students. Collyer is motivated by the impact tutoring can have on childrens’ lives.
When Smith started tutoring through the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, he felt he wasn’t
connecting with his 4thgrade student. The turning point came when he gave the young boy 10 multiplication problems. “You’re now being timed for a world record.” he said to the student. While the student had only four correct answers, he eagerly took on the challenge. “We made tutoring fun and the student eventually achieved grade level,” said Smith.
Smith then headed up the Rotary Tutor Program, which served several elementary schools in Ann Arbor. Those connections led him to the FLI, where Collyer tutored along with his son Cam. That was the same year the Rotary hit a record high of 600 service hours. For 2016-2017 Smith was elected President of the Rotary Club Ann Arbor, one of the largest Rotary Clubs in the country. Mr. Smith had to cut back on other activities.
In 2018 he has returned to FLI as a Board member and tutor at Parkridge Community Center in Ypsilanti. Smith works with a young girl and second-grade boy from the local community.
Among his many volunteer efforts over the years, Smith has tutored for Head Start and led a training session on communication and leadership for high school students at Washtenaw Community College. He was pleased that nearly all of the students attending the WCC training went on to college.
Why has Smith dedicated so much time to education and tutoring? “These are just great kids who are interested in learning. When they catch on and the light bulb goes off, it’s a tremendous feeling, You really see that tutoring has made a positive impact on their lives.” As an FLI Board member, Smith believes that the organization’s biggest challenge is the need for more tutors. “While it’s phenomenal that we have close to 75 tutors, we could use another 20 volunteer tutors. The need is there.” he added.