Mississippi Joe

1 decade 2 years 2 months ago Thursday, February 23 2006 Feb 23, 2006 Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:22:43 PM CST February 23, 2006 in News

Joe Bowmaster tutors 20 hours a week at Fulton High School, although he's not much older than his pupils.

"It's a good deal of time," he said, "but it's all worth it."

The Westminster College junior tutors high school students on Tuesdays, Thursdays and most Fridays. He's the youngest member of Fulton's Americorps.

"It's not the work so much that draws you in," said Bowmaster, "but the feeling being around the kids and the feeling that you get when a student realizes for the first time they get an A."

Fulton freshman Blake Early said, "He goes over tests with me, study guides and homework."

Students like Early appreciate Bowmaster's impact.

"I need good grades," said Early.

Fulton's Americorps program director, Jill Flackne, also appreciates Bowmaster.

"Joe is so energetic and gung-ho about service. He really gets it, and really believes it, and that is neat to see."

Now, Bowmaster's in Pass Christian, Miss., because he devoted this winter break to help the town that Hurricane Katrina destroyed.

"We are out for a month until Jan. 14," he explained, "and rather than go home and sit on the couch and watch TV, I wanted to give back to the community."

Bowmaster certainly won't be a couch potato during this break.

"I'll be living in a tent city, living in a tent, sleeping on cot, taking showers in portable showers, and eating military meal packs."

Flackne knows Bowmaster will do a good job, whether it's tutoring or helping hurricane survivors recover.

"Our members go through an extensive training program," added Flackne, "not only in tutoring methods, but also CPR, First Aid and disaster relief."

Bowmaster knows his training will come in handy.

"All but one of the schools were destroyed in Pass Christian. So, the entire school district is packed into one tiny school and they are short, of course, on teachers and things that have fled the area, no longer live there. So, I am hoping I'll be able to contribute some of this I learned here to the program there."

But, Bowmaster admitted his parents miss him this holiday season.

"They're a bit depressed," he said. "Even though I am only 20, this will be my second Christmas away from home."

In fact, Bowmaster worked Christmas Eve and Christmas without even realizing they were holidays. And, as soon as he returns from the Gulf Coast, he'll resume tutoring at Fulton High School.

Americorps is a federally-funded organization that's often referred to as the domestic Peace Corps.

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