After serving America he’s serving youth
Oscar Munguia knows the difference a mentor can make in a young person’s life.
The 2001 East Union High graduate served America in Iraq and is now serving its future — the youth accessing Give Every Child a Chance’s free tutoring programs — as program director.
“Everybody needs a mentor in life,” Munguia, 22, said.
He learned that lesson in Iraq serving with the military police. He credits his sergeant — Koka Sexton — for showing him how to stay alive and to understand life has purpose.
“He got me to save my money over there,” said Munguia who married Irene shortly after serving his stint with the Army Reserve. “A lot of guys didn’t. I know he (the sergeant) made a big difference in my life.”
Munguia said that is what he wants to do — make a big difference in the lives of others.
And what better way than to work in a program that brings hundreds of volunteers together each year to help over 1,000 kids improve their academic performance.
“It also shows that someone cares about them,” said Munguia.
Munguia said he has a young cousin involved in the French Camp GECAC tutoring program who is benefiting immensely from the program both in terms of academics as well as self-esteem.
Munguia recalls when he first started working part-time for GECAC with the group after school tutoring effort at August Knodt School.
There were kids whose parents both worked and not only appreciated having someone to help them comprehend their homework but knowing that someone else cared.
“It makes a big difference,” Munguia said.
The program also made a big difference in Munguia’s life. Up until starting to work as a tutor, he wanted to land a job as a police officer. Now he’s pursuing a degree in early childhood education doing what he wants to do with his life — helping kids achieve success.
“I enjoy what I’m doing,” Munguia said. “I get up in the morning excited about coming to work.”
Among the key components of Munguia’s job as program director is securing volunteer tutors and matching them with students needing help.
There are 255 currently involved in one-on-one tutoring programs and 497 in group student programs after school.
There is also a waiting list hovering around 150 kids.
“People willing to volunteer their time is our biggest need,” Munguia said.
Volunteers are asked to donate an hour twice a week on a time schedule that works for them. They are also able to pick the grade level of students they want to help as well as the subject matter they are most comfortable with. There is a short orientation session.
There have been 85 graduates from various GECAC programs since July 1. That means students are performing at grade level after lagging significantly. The tutoring isn’t continued to accelerate students above grade level as there is a waiting list of other students performing below grade level that need to be matched with tutors.
The 27th tutoring site opened this week at Woodward School in south Manteca. Work has also started on opening a 28th location at Ripona School in Ripon. It will be the second Ripon location. The other is currently at Heartland Community Church.
Give Every Child a Chance’s community-based tutoring program is considered the best in California by a school administrators group.
The Manteca-based organization is being honored this Friday in Sacramento for the Best School Partnership in the Golden State by the Association of California School Administrators.
The non-profit was nominated by Manteca Unified director of secondary education Bob Lee who has seen first hand the impact that the six-year-old program has had on students.
To reach Dennis Wyatt, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
By DENNIS WYATT
Managing editor of the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin