It a started in 2001 with a dozen or so Maryknoll nuns and a few community volunteers: Monrovia’s Pro Active Tutoring (PAT) with Duke Freyermuth at the helm. Already retired from his counseling position in the Monrovia school district, Freyermuth was ready to tackle a new project, PAT provided the opportunity. With Monrovia Reads providing the necessary seed money to get the project started, the tutoring program in Monrovia schools and at the library has grown.
It is a no-cost tutoring program for all Monrovia students. PAT was the brainchild of Monrovia Unified School District (MUSD) Assistant Superintendent Joel Shawn, Monrovia Reads founding President Joanne Spring and Freyermuth, a 33-year counselor in Monrovia schools. They knew that not all parents could afford the tutoring their children needed. PAT provided the solution.
That first group of volunteers led to college students who were paid for their assistance. Most of these tutors were paid through funds obtained from matching grants based on the monies supplied by Monrovia Reads. The money was handled by the school district. But this was only a part of the PAT program. In addition to the college student tutors, there were the community volunteers (including some of those wonderful Maryknoll nuns) who continued to work with students who needed a bit of help.
Eventually, Duke reached out to Advanced Placement students at Monrovia High School (MHS). These young people volunteered in three ways. Some worked at MHS as peer tutors helping their fellow students. They set up in the library after school at desks labeled chemistry, calculus, etc. indicating the tutor’s area of expertise. Others volunteered to work with struggling middle school students. Parents of all the academically challenged middle schoolers were given the opportunity to have their child involved with a tutor, a wonderfully successful program. Still other MHS students volunteer their time at Monrovia Public Library helping younger students with everything from reading to basic math and more. The high school tutors are not paid for their efforts but do it because it has become important to them. Again, Monrovia Reads tries to encourage them with some small recognition.
There are also community volunteers at the library as well as the high school students. All these programs have one goal in mind: helping the students in Monrovia schools and ensuring they have every opportunity to succeed. A student has to work hard to avoid getting help in Monrovia schools.
At the center of all these programs for the last 19 years has been Freyermuth. Now, more than half a million hours of tutoring have been logged in these 19 years. While Freyermuth does receive a stipend for his efforts, this cannot compensate him for his more than 40-hour weeks and all the driving he does for the program, personally visiting every school and the library.
His long-time friend and co-worker at MUSD and Monrovia Reads, Joanne Spring wrote of him, “Duke’s rallying cry from the very beginning was, ‘Service is love made visible!’ He has walked the walk every step of the way!!! He is, indeed, a humble and amazing man advocate of children and youth!”
Dr. Katherine Thorossian echoed those sentiments and expanded on them writing:
“Duke Freyermuth created an unparalleled system of support for all Monrovia Unified students. Pro Active Tutoring does more than just offer students additional academic help when they need it — though that alone is invaluable. The opportunity to help others instills in tutors confidence and self-worth — if either were lacking. It also reminds those being tutored that they are part of a larger community, with a network of support upon which they can depend and to which they, too, will contribute.
“Duke may be leaving us; but his legacy will live on in the fabric of Monrovia and, especially, in the success of students for generations to come. On behalf of generations of Monrovia Unified students past, present, and future, thank you, Duke, for your vision and your heart.”
And now he is retiring completely to move closer to grandchildren in Texas. He will be missed by the entire community, especially the students who have benefited from his kind guidance. Monrovia Reads celebrated his efforts with a drive-by parade on Wednesday morning this week.