Oasis Tutor Kay Rhoads and studentby Kay Rhoads, Oasis tutor, trainer and librarian


When I retired from the Social Security Administration four years ago after 34 years working in public service, I knew that I wanted to find a meaningful volunteer commitment that would make good use of my talents. Reading is one of my passions as is opera. While at an Opera Southwest performance three years ago, I was browsing the program when an ad for the Oasis reading tutoring program caught my eye. As a member of the Opera Guild, I am very interested in any partnerships the opera company has with organizations in the community. I called to get information about the tutoring program the next day and, as they say, the rest is history.

Learn more about the Oasis Albuquerque Intergenerational Tutoring Program


I began tutoring two children at the elementary school in my neighborhood. I enjoyed finding fun and interesting books for us the read. I started collecting games, puzzles and activities that sparked an interest in words and reading. The reading coordinator at Oasis asked me if I would be the librarian for the over 2000 children’s books in the tutor library. I gladly accepted and immediately reorganized the library into categories/subject matter instead of by author name. My students that year were so sweet and that made me want to continue working with them. I saw huge progress over the months of tutoring these children and the teachers were very appreciative of the one-on-one attention I was able to give.  The parents of one child I tutored contacted me and asked if I would tutor their child during the summer, which I did. We had adventures at the public library that were not possible in the regular tutoring program.


The next year I requested to be placed at a Title I school in a poorer neighborhood. I continued tutoring in my neighborhood school but also drove 30 minutes across town to tutor at the largest elementary school in New Mexico. I started working closely with the teachers, principal and librarian at this school to create a fundraiser so that we could give books to students as they graduated from the school. I also volunteer with a local reading committee supported by the City of Albuquerque and was able to get over 2000 books donated to this school for their Readabration celebration. The principal approached me at the end of the school year and asked if I would help in a fifth grade classroom the following year, which I gladly accepted.

At my neighborhood school, I tutored a very bright student from Spain and helped her learn English better. I also tutored a child who fired me as he said he could read just fine. The teacher handled this perfectly when she told him he was too young to fire anyone. Karma struck in this case as the parents asked me to continue to tutor him during the summer months, which I did. We became very close and I still see him from time to time. He loves to read now. I also got to see one of my students excel in the classroom when I came in early to pick her up and she was giving a book report. She beamed as we walked down the hall and told me she had never received a 100 on anything she had done before. Encouraging kids to succeed is so important!


This school year has been very exciting. I wrote a grant for the Oasis tutoring program that was awarded and we were able to buy books for the students and for the library as well as funding some of the new tutor training materials. I was asked to be one of the instructors for the new tutors and assisted in training about 60 new tutors. I also helped the new reading director transition into her job and obtain a small grant from the local reading committee mentioned above. I also give updates about the Oasis tutor library during our tutor support meetings. I assist the reading director with purchasing books and develop outreach to the community. I also inventoried the library to ensure that all books were listed on the database and correctly categorized. I volunteered to be a part of the Poet in the Classroom project for a second year.


The best part of this year has been my tutoring experiences. In addition to tutoring three individual students at two different schools each week, I also assist with reading circles in a fifth grade classroom. To actually be a part of the classroom and to assist these eager young learners in their reading fluency and comprehension skills is so rewarding. I have forged friendships with these young people and they appreciate my life experiences. The other day we were reading about Sputnik and the Space Race and they were amazed that I was alive when we landed on the moon.


This program has changed my life in huge ways and has given me a purpose beyond gracefully growing old in my retirement. I see positive changes in the students I tutor and my life is enriched by being involved with the youngest members my community. I feel valued and so happy that my skills are appreciated and put to good use. It gives me purpose and joy.

– Kay Rhoads

Learn more about the Oasis Albuquerque Intergenerational Tutoring Program