Matthew Grulke, a Muskegon Community College student and lead tutor from Grand Haven, MI, received the prestigious Tutor of the Year Award from the Michigan Tutorial Association (MTA) at the organization’s Connections XXXIV Conference on Oct. 14 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The MTA was established in 1988 as the sole professional organization in Michigan serving the needs of those interested and actively involved in tutoring in post-secondary education. MTA is dedicated to providing Michigan tutorial personnel a network for sharing, growth and learning opportunities.
The Tutor of the Year Award is presented by the MTA president to the membership’s most outstanding tutor at the annual MTA Connections Conference. The winner receives a monetary prize and a plaque. To be eligible, the Tutor of the Year candidates must have completed at least two semesters, one in the current academic year, as a tutor at present school. They are judged on their ability to serve as a mentor to other tutors and as a role model for other students.
“Matthew Grulke has been a tutor at Muskegon Community College for about three years,” said MCC Tutoring Coordinator Dean Fritzemeier. “During his time here, he has become a favorite to students and tutors because of his patient and easy going personality.”
In praising Grulke for his work with them, a group of MCC students wrote, “His devotion to his job is evident as he makes himself available at all times of the day, off the clock, to help others with homework via computer and texting. He truly has a way of projecting his advanced knowledge at a level first timers not only understand, but can grasp and easily retain.
“He is incredibly friendly and has taken the time to get to know you on an individual level. He has a valuable skill of being observant to the many unique ways students learn. He strives to become more than just a tutor, but an easy-going friend that you don’t feel bad about asking the ‘stupid’ questions.
“It is no secret that Matt is extremely committed to helping others. We cannot recall one time that he was late or missed an appointment in the many semesters he has helped us. You can see the satisfaction he gets from being able to help get a concept to finally click for someone that was once struggling in an area. Muskegon Community College and its student body is extremely privileged to have a student like Mr. Grulke among its ranks.”
The son of a Coast Guard veteran, Grulke grew up on the Gulf Coast before his family moved to the Grand Haven area. A 2002 Grand Haven High School graduate, he enrolled at MCC in 2012, after having been employed in jobs in Florida and Michigan, to pursue a chemical engineering degree and career.
However, during his calculus course with MCC Instructor Tom Wolters, Grulke discovered he had a talent for helping others learn the subject matter. Wolters selected Grulke to aid his classmates during review sessions. Soon, the students around Grulke’s table grew significantly larger. The same thing happened to him in the Tutoring Center.
“Matthew always welcomes additional students to his table, which is otherwise known as ‘the calc table,’ regardless of the subject content,” said Fritzemeier. “He has the ability to assist students in various subjects, such as Algebra, Calculus, and Chemistry, at the same time. I have witnessed as many as six to eight students at the table with him.”
“The biggest surprise is how beneficial tutoring has been to me,” said Grulke. “I am so good at math now for having to regurgitate it. The biggest misconception is that if you need tutoring, you must be dumb. I feel like everyone is intelligent just for being here. I’ve had people who are in Calc 3 coming in for some tutoring. It’s all across the spectrum.”
Grulke loves the atmosphere in the MCC Tutoring Center.
“We try to keep it very relaxed and comfortable,” he said. “If someone comes in with a subject that we normally don’t tutor, Dean (Fritzemeier) doesn’t turn them away. He will get them help. He is definitely one of, if not, the best supervisors I’ve had.”
Grulke’s experience with tutoring at MCC has had an effect on his educational plans.
“It has very much impacted how I am viewing the future and what I want to do,” explained Grulke, who is still looking “to major in engineering or at the very least mathematics. But I want to minor in some sort of education. I found I have a knack and a passion for helping others.”
He is looking at the University of Michigan or Michigan Tech to continue his studies after he’s completed his work at MCC this winter.
“I am a little anxious because of how good MCC was,” he said. “I’m not sure that I am going to get that same level of community that I found here.”