Los Ayudantes

If there’s a thread through Becky Zeren’s life, it’s books. She inherited a library from her father that numbered in the tens of thousands. She worked for 30 years as teacher/librarian at Trinity School in Menlo Park. And among her retirement pursuits, she is volunteering with Los Ayudantes, a Redwood City-based non-profit that provides in-class tutoring for 6th-8th graders and after-school book clubs for 4th-5th graders

“I’ve been involved with the organization in one way or another for many years, first as a resource librarian for volunteers, then a board member, and an occasional guest storyteller at Fair Oaks,” she said during an interview at her Ladera home. “In 2015, I took two years off from Los Ayudantes while I finished my career at Trinity School. Once I retired, I rejoined Los Ayudantes as a classroom “helper” at McKinley Institute of Technology. I participate in the In Class Middle School Program.

“Working in a middle school is a new opportunity for me since my whole career was in elementary school. It’s been challenging and exciting to see the curriculum connections between elementary and middle school.”

She realizes that her career at Trinity did much to prepare for her current volunteer work. “Kids want clean, new books, not worn out books from the discard pile,” she said. “They also want to read a good story.”

Becky tutors one-on-one for a little under an hour. “I go a little early to see what’s going on,” she said. “Many of the students I’ve met can read out loud but they don’t understand what the words mean, even though they are saying them.”

Over the past year, she’s purchased around 2,000 books, spending her own money. “Kepler’s gives me a good discount,” she said with a smile. “And the children’s book buyer there helps me identify what four or five books the kids are going to look for the first days of school.

“I’m ready to start again after Labor Day and looking forward to it!”

Photo by Robb Most (c) 2018

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