You never know what will draw a person into becoming a volunteer at Cluster Tutoring.
Laura Bermudez is the new Tuesday night librarian at Cluster. She learned about the program through a friendship with Executive Director Kara Kalnitz, as they got to know each other when both of their children attended the Oak Park and River Forest Day Nursery.
Jack and Noelle are now both in kindergarten, but Laura and Kara kept up the friendship they had forged. “We bonded over buying books for our children,” Laura said. So working as the Tuesday librarian was a logical next step. “Children’s literature became a new passion for me.”
Although Laura is new to Cluster, she’s not new to tutoring. When she worked as a director in human resources at Exelon, she spent five years volunteering with the WITS program, or Working in the Schools. Students came to her office building each week to receive one-to-one tutoring that consisted mainly of reading practice, with time for math and other skills built in.
Laura is taking a one-year sabbatical from work, so she is appreciating the time to explore other interests such as Cluster. “I’ve always liked books,” she said. “This way, I get to explore a lot more of them.
As librarian, Laura serves as a resource to tutors and students who come to the library to look for new books and supplies. “We talk about the kids’ interests,” Laura said. “I ask them what they last read, how they spend their free time. This gives us a better idea of the kinds of books to recommend.”
Laura said she is enjoying meeting the students and tutors. “I’m getting to know some of the regulars.”
Whatever Laura’s next professional step is after her sabbatical, she is enjoying this new focus. “It’s more enthusiasm than any technical experience, but I love it,” she said.