Fellow Spotlight: Paul Betz
As Paul Betz neared the final years at his long-standing career in the Chicago area, he considered shifting from the corporate world towards a teaching position. Like many Fellows before him, Paul decided not to end his career in slow retirement, but instead with a new role that had the potential to reward him personally.
“In 2015, I was a computer programmer, systems analyst, and project manager at Kraft-Heinz Food Company,” he says. “I decided it was time for me to make a career change as I was approaching my retirement years. I wanted to do something more meaningful as I closed out my working career.”
Paul searched for teaching opportunities that allowed him the opportunity to provide academic support to disadvantaged students. There were several that caught his attention, but ultimately, Saga stood out among the rest. Along his search, he discovered how “incredibly expensive” quality tutoring can be for students, and was hopeful to get the chance to be part of a program that provides tutoring to students at no cost to them or their families.
“I chose Saga because I believe in what we are trying to do. I looked into other opportunities as an educator, but I believed this program was the best fit for me and had the greatest potential for good.”
As a Fellow at Amundsen and Wells High Schools, Paul learned Saga’s tutoring methods and took part in a unique, intensive teaching role that bound him closely to his students. The learning process was a shift from his old job as a system analyst, yet he caught on quickly. Aside from teaching math, Paul discovered that many of these students had the potential to do well, but had—at some point—fallen through the cracks of the academic system. By connecting to his students on a personal level, Paul has seen tremendous growth in their grades.
“I love having the opportunity to change the direction of my students in a significant way. I have seen student grades improve as much as 45 points since the beginning of the year. One student went from 77% to 95% in her math class and earned a place on the honor roll.”
When asked how he connects to students, Paul says that he tries to show the rewards of learning that will last them past their time in high school. By encouraging his students to think past graduation and into their adult lives, Paul has found that students work with purpose, and it reflects in their grades.