By Eric Fergason
The SALT Center employs roughly 90 tutors each academic year. Their expertise spans a variety of subject areas, and they undergo a rigorous training regiment to ensure that they have the proper skills to empower students who learn differently. To better understand how tutoring at the SALT Center can impact future employment, we interviewed David Wagner, a UA attorney and former tutor at the SALT Center.
David was a sophomore when he realized that he needed a job, but he wanted to do something more meaningful than fry food or work as a cashier. After reflecting on his options, he decided to apply for a tutoring position at the SALT Center, “I always enjoyed teaching and tutoring.”
David started at the SALT Center while it was still located in the basement of Old Main, “Tutoring was done on a bunch of benches bolted to the walls. When they got the new building, it really amped things up.” The SALT Center moved from the cramped, dingy basement to the beautiful facility that it inhabits today (the Patricia A. Bartlett building), complete with plenty of open space for tutoring and an abundance of natural light.
In order to be an effective tutor, David had to learn how to explain difficult concepts in new ways. He recalled one particularly effective lesson on air pressure, “I ended up bringing in a bunch of tennis balls…and was bouncing them around the cubicle to demonstrate how air pressure and air molecules work. You have to be creative when trying to explain a concept to someone; you have to try different angles to make it click.” His ingenuity paid off – throughout his time at the SALT Center, David helped hundreds of students with learning challenges achieve their academic goals.
When asked about the value that tutoring offered him, David replied that becoming a good tutor had a positive impact on his own education: “Knowing your audience [is critical]. Each person is unique in terms of how they learn…when you teach to different audiences, you learn the subject better yourself.”
David saw this lesson play out in one of his law classes - “The professor had taught the same class for 15 years. He made the same jokes on the same days - it was down to precision. I think that’s great, but I think its better when you have to present the same material in a different way. I think it rounds you out a little more.”
David said that he was surprised to enjoy the job as much as he did, “I didn’t really know, going into it, how in-depth it would be, and how much I would get out of it. I just figured I’d much rather teach something than make food. But then it turned into something I really enjoyed.” David’s enthusiasm for tutoring inspired him to recruit a few friends to tutor at the SALT Center, including his future wife.
Another surprise for David was just how effective the SALT Center was at providing academic support for students who learn differently, “I don’t think I realized how much of a recruiting tool it is [for the University]. There are people who come from all over the country just for the SALT Center.”
David went on to earn his law degree at The University of Texas, and then took a job in Indianapolis. After spending some time at a big law firm, he decided to explore other options, and is now an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the University of Arizona, where he assists the University in employment law matters.
We are so grateful for David’s contribution to our students and our history. It’s tutors like him who make the SALT Center an incredible place to learn and to work.
Interested in learning more about SALT Center Tutoring Services? Visit http://salt.arizona.edu/services/tutoring.
Visit David Wagner's UA profile at http://ogc.arizona.edu/person/david-s-wagner.