Monday, March 07, 2011


In addition to all the other things taking up my time, keeping me from posting, I have been volunteering at our elementary school.  The first year I did this, I was directed to the teacher workroom, where I sat in a windowless space and cut things out, or stapled things together.  Thank goodness I brought my iPod!  Although several teachers breezing through stated their appreciation, I only lasted twice.   Surely, I thought, there was a better use of my time and talents.

Then, Colin's first grade teacher approached me about coming once a week to help her students take AR tests.  I eagerly agreed.  I loved it, showing up and taking students 2 or 3 at a time to the computer lab, then to the library to get new books.  Colin loved it, too, showering me with hugs when I arrived, and trying to gross out his friend F. by kissing me on the lips!  I got to know lots of the students in his class, and they still wave at me in the halls.

This year, I signed up for a reading program that helps slow readers gain more "fluency."  Once a week I meet with two students, 30 minutes each.  They read a short piece aloud for 60 seconds, and we count how many words they can read, plotting it on a graph.  Then they practice reading aloud with a tape (the woman on the tape has a strong Minnesota accent - they think it is so funny), then answer some content questions.  After that, I time them again.  Of course their word count is higher, sometimes much higher, and then they graph that.  They can see their improvement that day, and over the weeks.

They are supposed to meet with volunteers 3 days a week, but the librarian tells me often the other volunteers don't show up.  I can't imagine not keeping this commitment.  I have one girl then one boy I work with.   I like them both, but I am especially fond of the little girl.  She is chatty, and tells me about playing with her cousins, her dreams, her mom leaving on a trip.  I have to direct her back to the work, although I love talking with her, too.   "Next week I'll wear the new shirt my mom got me in Vegas!  Then you can see it," she told me.  OK, see you next time.

But then, I got an email this week from the vice-principal, telling me I would have 2 new students starting next week.  The girl is moving to a different reading program.  I suspect she needs a more comprehensive program than this one.  The boy is moving to a higher level  at a different time.  I am a little bereft about not seeing the little girl again!  We didn't even get to say goodbye!  At least I know that I will see her sometimes in the halls, and I will get a special smile and wave.


Boilerdad said...

Nice post! I really just love the fact that you posted!

Anonymous said...

Just know, that you are special to all the kids you interact with. And they know it! Love, M

Krispy said...

I bet she will still remember you!

Lisa said...

I'm so happy for you, getting to participate in the kids' school day like this. My hours spent volunteering at my kids' school are the most rewarding, for sure. Getting to know the other children in their classrooms is wonderful. Lyra's teacher would never be able to let the kids do hands-on science experiments without extra adult help. And don't you feel like a rock star, walking through the halls and getting those smiles and waves from the children? Bonus.

Emily said...

What a difference you are making! I admire your commitment to them.