supporting Cambridge public school students

Say hello to Doreen J Lopes-Smith!


Doreen Lopes-Smith, second from the right, front row, with her fellow 2011 honorees.  From L to R, front: Jennifer Fries, Executive Director; Elaine Schear, Mack Davis honoree; Doreen Lopes-Smith; Susan Milmoe, Mack Davis honoree.  From L to R, back row: Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Young; Ellen Smith, Mack Davis honoree; Fletcher-Maynard Academy Principal Robin Harris, Kenny Neal awardee; Donald Board, Mack Davis honoree; Mayor David Maher.  Not pictured: Robert (Chip) Taggart, Mack Davis honoree.

students through the CSV program that pairs adults with middle school students via e-
mail sharing around writing and computer skills. In 2011, CSV honored Doreen with its
Mack I. Davis II award, which honors exceptional volunteers.

While working at the Office of Leadership Giving at MIT, Doreen has assisted students
with many assignments including English grammar, communication skills, and reading.
Doreen remembers one particular student who was “so, so, so smart” and used to e-
mail her up to three times per day regarding her student assignments. Doreen says
the student was very focused on her schoolwork and even took weekend classes. The
student appreciated Doreen’s encouragement and thought that “e-mail was the best
thing” because it allowed her tutor to be completely accessible. At the end of the year,
the student told Doreen that they had exchanged over 5000 e-mails. “I thought it was so
cute,” Doreen says, “that she kept and counted all our e-mail exchanges.”

Doreen understands how important it is for kids to be noticed. No matter if the emails
were simply “Hi, how are you’s,” Doreen understood how significant her response could
be. No matter how busy she was, Doreen would answer e-mails right away, establishing
the connection and friendship needed to support her student as they worked together.

Doreen enjoys working with the variety of students that come to her. By far the greatest
part of the experience that she takes away is being a role model. Beyond giving her
students needed support and encouragement with their schoolwork, Doreen also enjoys
the friendships that are created and the connections that are shared. And even though
physical distance can be problematic with e-mail correspondence, Doreen manages it
in the best way that she can, which is to be constantly and consistently available to her

Outside of work and CSV, Doreen loves to contribute to her community. She reads
to elementary school students every week and finds it “so rewarding to see the smiles
on their faces.” With that experience, Doreen is able to follow the same students from
second to fourth grade. She finds it to be “just wonderful, to watch them grow, like part
of my family.”