Sunday, July 18, 2010

Committed people make change possible

About a week ago, one of our Americorps members emailed me explaining her experience this summer:
When I was attending training for Americorps and I heard many of the speakers tell me my life would forever be changed after this summer, I had a time believing them. But, three weeks into my term, I know they are right. When I started three weeks ago, I was sure of my career path. But, it has quickly been changed.
I was sure I did not want to work with younger kids for several reasons. I felt as if young kids had too much energy. I also thought I wanted students who had a certain amount of knowledge about a particular subject before they entered my classroom. Lastly, I have always thought there needed to be more focus on secondary education because it appeared to me that older students were often left to fin for themselves if they were not at the top of their class by the time they entered high school.
But after this week, my mind has been completely changed. I was working with two boys on Tuesday who are entering sixth grade. It became apparent to me for the first time this week they could not read.  I was shocked that it took me three weeks to notice this. Not only have these boys been failed by the school system, I felt as if I had failed them too. I kept asking myself why did it take me so long to realize they could not read. How did I not pick up on the clues? I realized that every time they told me they did not like to read, it was really because they could not read.
Even after I got off of work, I could not stop thinking about the boys and how many more there must be like them in our community. I also thought about when I was their age and I did not like to read either. If it had not been for my parents sending me to tutoring and enhancing my reading skills, I never would have learned to enjoy reading as well.
I learned this week how important it is for young minds to be enriched with a solid foundation. So, when they do reach high school they will have the fundmental skills they need to futher their knowledge. I am positive that I want to be one of those people to help build their foundation.
Though this Americorps member will graduate in December with a major in Political Science and a minor in English, as she sat in my office she explained, "This program is amazing!" And went on to tell me her desire is now to enter the non-profit world and create the same type of learning opportunities in another after school program. She recounted commented on all of the learning opportunities the kids have on a daily basis.

Hearing her talk about kids who are upper elementary, middle, and high school who struggle tremendously in reading makes me very sad. However, it makes me proud to have a program that is so intentional and working so diligently on providing educational learning and growing opportunities for kids of all ages. It also makes me proud to have a staff that is so committed to move children forward who have, in the past, missed the foundational principles they need to be successful.

The Americorps members and social work interns we have been able to recruit (as well as the two staff members) have provided us with above-and-beyond commitment that is immeasurable...not for program, but for each individual child...and that's what matters.

Thank you to all of you who make it happen each day!

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