Reading Mentor pulls double duty

Traci MurphyApril 27, 2022
Volunteer Reading Mentor sits next to a young student. They have an open book and mask in front of them.


At the beginning of the year, Mike McGuire joined our team of Reading Mentors. Every Tuesday, you’ll find him at Genesis School. Before he joins his class as a “Flextra” Reading Mentor, he heads to the school’s library, logging into a virtual reading session with a student at Academy for Integrated Arts (AFIA).

“I open my laptop, insert my earbuds, then log into a Zoom meeting with Diane Shankwitz, the Site Coordinator for AFIA, and all the other AFIA volunteers,” McGuire said. “After I’m done reading virtually, I close up my laptop, walk about 60 steps to the front entry of Genesis, and meet up with Gail Hennessy, the Site Coordinator for Genesis, and the other Genesis volunteers.”

McGuire said it’s easy to manage the two sessions, and each offers its own special moments.

“I’ve learned that my student at AFIA has a dog named Brownie, McGuire said, “I ask her about Brownie at the beginning of our reading sessions, and she’s always excited to tell me how her dog is doing.”

McGuire has even shared photos of his wife and their two cats.

“Just a minute or two of chatting about our animals helps ‘break the ice’ prior to reading together for 30 minutes over a computer,” he said. 

Serving as a “Flextra” Reading Mentor at Genesis School means he works with new students every week.

“I’m a substitute reader,” McGuire said. “It’s nice, because I get to read with lots of different students – each of whom, so far, has been eager to read and very willing to take any suggestions I might have to help them improve their reading skills.”

McGuire’s volunteerism doesn’t end there. He also serves as a ninth-grade algebra tutor at Frontier STEM High School.

“My background is in Mechanical Engineering and Business Administration, so I love math,” he said. “So although both reading and math are important – and they are close to being equally important – I’d have to say that I think reading is the most important. If you can’t read, you can’t learn math. In fact, if you can’t read, you can’t learn much of anything else.

McGuire is one of more than 600 Reading Mentors helping Kansas City area students build a brighter future with reading as a foundation. Want to join the team? Visit our website to learn more