Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Retirees can use career skills to volunteer

Steve Mercer spent 35 years with General Electric and Boeing, mostly developing executive talent jobs. Now, he's developing the math skills of a fifth-grader.

After developing executive talent, Mercer retired in 2004 and moved with his wife, Ning, to northern California from St. Louis. Troubled by reports that non-English-speaking kids were falling behind in school, he considered teaching English as a second language.

Then he noticed an article about Experience Corps ( looking for volunteers to teach reading and math. He called them, and with his engineering background, Mercer was put to work tutoring kids in math.

Now, twice a week, Mercer works with a fifth-grader.

"The hardest thing is getting kids motivated," he said, which is where his executive talent training comes into play. For his student, who loves football, he invented a game where the student can move the ball (a coin) down a hand-drawn field as he solves math problems correctly.

"You know you helped somebody take a step forward," Mercer said.

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