Written by Liz Groth
“The youth need more role models that they can look up to,” Matt Gannon, a sophomore at St. Norbert College, declared early on in my interview with him. Serving with the Greater Green Bay YMCA through Michels Hall Service Program gave Matt the opportunity to step up to the plate and become a role model for a group of 5th grade students in the Eisenhower Elementary after-school program. By working with the students one on one to tutor them in math and reading, Matt is able to share his passion for learning and inspire these students to work hard to make their dreams come true.
As a math and business double major, Matt is excited to share his love for arithmetic and numbers. One of the ways he does this is by incorporating games and fun activities to help engage the students. Matt commented that “seeing the kids improve and have fun at the same time is really fulfilling.”
On his first day volunteering through the YMCA, Matt said that all of the students were incredibly enthusiastic and mistakenly thought that his name was “Math,” which made him smile because it seemed so fitting. He claims that working with the YMCA has been a great experience because they offer such a wide range of opportunities and the students are so dedicated.
Of course, no experience is complete without a challenge. Matt admits that it took him a little bit to realize that not all kids are the same and that they all learn differently. He explained, “They all have different likes and dislikes, challenges and strengths when it comes to the classroom.” In order to better accommodate the 5th graders, Matt makes it a priority to make sure that each child gets a fair amount of one-on-one tutor time.
“Going into the volunteer experience, I never thought that the kids would show the amount of hard work and enthusiasm that they have.” Matt admits. He goes on to explain how great of an experience it has been to work with the students and says that he feels like he is improving as a person as he helps them improve as students.
Grateful for his opportunity to serve as a role model for younger students, Matt encourages others to do the same. Anyone can be a role model, “all you need is dedication and a positive attitude.” If you’re interested in learning more about the Michels Hall Service Program, click here. You can also visit the Greater Green Bay YMCA’s website to learn how you can motivate and support youth in our community.