A school is successful due to the heart and dedication of its staff, community and volunteers. Crestwood Elementary is a school where at risk students are nurtured in a family atmosphere that is not always within their homes. Teachers and volunteers become the ones who nurture a love of learning and mend broken hearts or disillusioned dreams. Samuel Hood is one of the individuals who volunteer their time to help the teachers and students at Crestwood Elementary.
For 30 years, Mr. Hood worked as a business executive until he was forced into retirement in 1990 due to two open-heart surgeries. He decided to concentrate on the community’s needs and devoted much of his time to the Red Cross and the VA hospitals. In 1999, his wife told him about the need for literacy volunteers at Crestwood because the company she works for is a business partner for the school. Mr. Hood began volunteering and continues to this day.
Initially, Mr. Hood working with only a few students. He now helps 28 students in grades two through five. He arrives at the school each day of the week prepared to face both educational and emotional hurdles facing the students. The children enjoy the fact that he comes when he says he’s coming – everyday. The consistency shows them they matter to him and they are important. He shows his interest and encourages the students who have to deal with disappointment and broken promises. Each of the children he works with received birthday cards and notes of encouragement throughout the year. He also adds festivity to the tutoring sessions with holiday treats and creates lessons that will hold the interest of struggling readers.
Many of students demonstrate success as a result of Mr. Hood’s tutoring. All of his third grade students in 2003 passed the state’s Florida Academic Comprehensive Test (FCAT) in reading. A special needs student from second grade now shows confidence in her third grade classes this year due to the rise of her reading level from 0.6 to 2.0. Another boy Mr. Hood is working with for the second year from a single parent home has gone from a history of disruptive behavior and low achievement to a story of success. The time he shares with his role model has helped change his social experience to one of accomplishment and praise.
The stories of Mr. Hood’s success are known among teachers and students in the school. Parents arrive at school searching for the man who is making such a difference in their child’s life. In a small school where the school family celebrates successes, this special volunteer continues to nurture pride, security and knowledge that anything is possible to all the children he meets and works with. Mr. Hood believes it is part of his duty to prepare the children to complete their education at a level that will allow them to achieve their dreams.