Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Each one, reach one

Greeting.

Helping.

Teaching.

Hugging.

Learning.

Laughing.

Experiencing.

Interacting.

This is what I saw when I walked into the After-School Academy this week.

Jasmine McMillon, an 8-year old who has traditionally been one of our "handfuls" at times, leaned over, wrapping her arms around a 6-year old to help him write his letters.

Kids greeted visitors with a smile, a firm handshake, and a pleasant greeting.

Parents sat with children and helped them with their homework.

Sixth graders, in their new volunteer role, cleaned, taught, assisted, guided, and facilitated.

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Tuesday we found out we didn't have as many teachers as we thought we had. We needed a teacher for the 5th grade Book Club group.

You would think that I would have learned by now that the answers are right under our nose.

The solutions are simply in focusing on the capacity of the community.

After stressing over the lack of available adults for about 10 minutes, it dawned that we had what we needed at our fingertips! The sixth graders we had in the volunteer training on Saturday were doing an amazing job in assisting. Now all we had to do was to bump up their leadership role. With the right training, they can be our facilitators!

Jhor-Dai, a sixth grader who has been in the ASA for several years now, agreed to be the facilitator. She is reading the book in her 6th grade reading class. So, not only do we get a teacher, but I know from experience that teaching helps you learn. I'm convinced her preparation for this class through our weekly meetings and her own research can only deepen her knowledge and enhance what she's doing in school.

Clarence, a new volunteer...also in sixth grade, also was a key helper in the class. Jeremy* (not his real name) is in the fifth grade book club but struggles to read even the easiest books. In an attempt to be discreet, I asked Clarence to pair up with Jeremy since we were short on books. The next time I checked on them Clarence was doing most of the reading and they were both discussing. Clarence informed me that he was helping Jeremy with his reading. Without me saying a word, Clarence had recognized Jeremy's struggle without judgment and both were ok with the nature of the relationship.

The capacity is in the community.
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