Retired Aerospace Exec Helping at the FRC

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013 in News, Sidebar | 0 comments

La Cañada Flintridge resident Bob Lang is a tireless volunteer at Hathaway-Sycamores’
Highland Park Family Resource Center

La Cañada Flintridge resident Bob Lang, volunteering at Hathaway-Sycamores' Highland Park Family Resource Center

Bob Lang, tutoring at Hathaway-Sycamores’ Highland Park Family Resource Center

“They have a lot of challenges, but they also have a lot of hope, so you want to do all you can to help them,” says La Cañada Flintridge resident Bob Lang.

Lang is referring to the elementary through high-school students that he tutors – free of charge – at Hathaway Sycamores Child and Family Services Highland Park Family Resource Center (840 N. Avenue 66). While many of his fellow retirees are perfecting their golf swings or pursing the open road, Lang – who worked for decades in the aerospace industry – is helping to set Highland-Park-area students on a path toward success.

As for the path that led Lang to the Family Resource Center, it can be sourced to his spouse, Paulette Lang, who serves on Hathaway Sycamores Child and Family Services’ Board of Directors. Two years ago, the Langs attended a fall festival at the Family Resource Center. A conversation ensued between Bob Lang and the Center’s Manager Simon Gee. Lang told Gee that he’d volunteered for several years with the adult literacy program Pasadena READS. The program recently had been discontinued, so Lang was looking for a new volunteer opportunity because he “truly felt the desire to help others.”

Gee told Lang about his ongoing need for volunteers at the Family Resource Center’s Learning Center, which serves area-underprivileged youth by providing a place to study, complete with both computers and tutors. Lang was sold, and soon became a Resource Center fixture, tutoring students in whatever subject they were struggling with. Fortunately Lang – who earned an English degree from Dartmouth and a master’s in international business management – brings with him a deep bench of knowledge.

Lang quickly discovered that “demand far outpaces supply, and sometimes you’re literally being tugged at because all of these kids need and want help.” He also quickly observed dramatic turnarounds. “Many of these kids would come in on the verge of failing out, and the next thing you know they’re showing off their ‘student of the month’ certificates. We can’t take all of the credit,” he adds, “but we definitely can take some.”

Lang and Gee can take all of the credit, however, for starting a free SAT prep course last summer – one that was so successful that the duo offered it again this summer, July 8 through July 31. Students from that inaugural SAT course not only increased their scores – on average – by 20-percentile points, but the college scholarships these students received totaled nearly one-million dollars. And, as Lang points out, “Many of these students weren’t even considering going to college before they started coming to the Center, and those who were, wouldn’t be able to without the scholarships they received.” In addition to providing SAT prep, both Lang and Gee also helped many of the teens with the actual college-application process.

Outcomes from that first SAT-prep session are indeed impressive. Click here to read about some of our outstanding students and their wonderful results, including Valentino Gonzalez who is headed to Harvard with a full-tuition scholarship!

Lang has had his hands full, as this summer’s SAT prep course was expanded to include – not only students from nearby Franklin High and Wilson High – but also those from Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School. Lang and Gee traveled to Bravo every weekday morning, and then they headed to the Family Resource Center to tutor Franklin students. Before calling it a day, the pair prepped students at Wilson High.

Many people wouldn’t endure this taxing of schedule for pay, let alone for free. But that’s precisely what Bob Lang is doing, and – on top of that – he frequently supplies the students with pizza and other goodies to keep them going.

Not surprisingly, Lang’s standout volunteer efforts have garnered high praise from students and parents alike, but he’s not seeking any special recognition. Instead, he says, “The reward comes in the form of the look you see in these students’ eyes. They just light up and are so sincerely appreciative. They feel hopeful, and so do you.”

Click here to read more about Hathaway-Sycamores Learning Lab at the Family Resource Center.

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