supporting Cambridge public school students

Volunteer Sam Seidel Receives Mack Davis Award

There are individuals who make giving back to their community a way of life. For those individuals, rolling up their sleeves to get involved at the ground level comes naturally. Such a person is volunteer, Sam Seidel.

For five years, Sam has tutored in three separate CSV programs, sharing his passion for teaching and learning. His support roles have included tutoring with CSV’s Early Literacy Program and the Intergenerational Math Program. Both of these programs serve students already at-risk in 1st and 2nd grade, with the idea of catching students early. And for the past three years, Sam has faithfully tutored two times a week in an after school Learning Center, serving students in grades 6-8 at the Upper School level.

Sam has a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has worked in the field for a decade. This experience inspired him to think more deeply about topics affecting our community such as food security, transportation, education and environmental poverty. His passion around community issues is what compelled Sam to run for office. As a Cambridge City Councilor for two terms, he was involved with many community projects and discussions. However, Sam says that he is most proud of his work to bring attention to the importance of out-of-school time for school age students. He highlights that the hours spent outside of the classroom are just as important for students as in-school time.

Sam has always had an interest in teaching, so when the call went out seeking tutors, volunteering with CSV seemed a natural fit. Special Educator Tonya Banks shares that it has been reassuring to have a committed and caring tutor like Sam with the flexibility to help wherever help is needed. And she notes that Sam has made special connections with even the most challenging students.

Sam regularly tutors three students enrolled in the Learning Center program. Each Tuesday and Thursday at 3pm, Sam arrives at the Cambridge Street Upper School on his bicycle, ready to connect with his students and tackle the assignments or topics of the day. On Tuesdays, he works with one student whom he has been tutoring for two years now. Even before Learning Center started this fall, Sam’s student went to his 8th grade teacher to ask to work with Sam again. The two have enjoyed reading together regularly and have explored characters, technical aspects of writing, and themes within written pieces.

Sam communicates that learning is genuinely fun, and his students connect to that enthusiasm. Through tutoring, Sam can open up a student’s world to something new. He sees himself as a guide and a connector to help a student visualize the possibilities for him or herself.

Sam knows tutoring takes balance. He starts from the respectful vantage point in which he also can learn from his students. Whether reading about the Nile Delta or trying to recall how to multiply fractions, Sam truly enjoys the creative conversations that take place during the tutoring process. It’s especially exciting for Sam when a student scholar takes the lead in a conversation. Sam’s special way of building trust, having patience, and truly showing interest makes him so effective with middle school students.

Thank you, Sam, for being a mentor and tutor and opening up the world of possibilities to our Upper School students. We are delighted to have honored you with a 2015 Mack I. Davis Award.