September 14, 2005 - Beverly Dutz retired too early. She loved her long career as an educator and high school guidance counselor, and she especially loved the students. She missed all the joy of her job after she was gone.
Now, thanks to a program at her local library in Oro Valley, she is finding joy again: the joy of teaching.
Two days a week, for a few hours in the afternoon, Dutz and her husband, Dan, sit at a table tucked in a corner of the Oro Valley Public Library. They each offer their own area of expertise. Bev, as she prefers to be called, educates students in Spanish, history, French and English. Dan, simply known as "Mr. Math," helps out with equations, word problems and any other math difficulty, question or concern a student might bring in.
The Dutzes are just two of the volunteers working with local libraries to offer free after-school homework assistance to area students.
In all, 26 locations throughout Pima County offer the services to students in elementary school through high school.
Locations have been set up throughout the county to ensure each school district gets adequate homework help. In the Northwest and Foothills, students can get homework help at the Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Drive; the Nanini Branch Library, 7300 N. Shannon Road; and Canyon Del Oro High School, 25 W. Calle Concordia.
In addition to the onsite homework help, the Tucson Pima Public Library also has established an online homework help service, available everyday from 3 to 10 p.m.
If a student prefers to use the telephone for homework help, a telephone hotline has been established. From 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, students can call the help number and get help with finding answers to their homework questions.
The homework help is not only a way to benefit students, but a way to benefit retired educators as well, Bev said.
"They always make me feels so good," she said about the students.
The Oro Valley Public Library offers the help from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Students can drop in anytime during the designated hours and get help from a qualified volunteer, said Tom Sommer, Oro Valley Public Library librarian.
Sitting under a bright orange sign that reads "teen zone," Bev and Dan assist students they both have come to know as friends.
Robert Duffney, 16, is a junior at Ironwood Ridge High School. He and his family recently moved to the area after living in Germany with the military for three years.
Duffney goes to the library once a week to make sure he is on the right track with his algebra homework.
"They help me with special stuff you can't get in class," he said.
Duffney is just one of the many students receiving help at the Oro Valley Public Library and the other homework help locations, Sommer said.
When the library opened in August 2002, the service began right away, Sommer said. Each year, different tutors arrived to volunteer their services. This year, five homework helpers are available.
"I can't tell you how much it means to have this opportunity," Bev said. She admits that retiring in her 50s was too early and if a district would hire her she would go back to work in a minute - and still keep up her homework help time, of course. "It's been wonderful," she said.
At the Oro Valley Public Library, more than 25 students regularly receive homework help, Sommer said, and more find out about the services daily.
"We've proven that libraries have evolved," he said. "Youth, adults come together to help each other."