Official Blog of the Education Exchange Corps

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer 2010

Here's what we are doing (and have done) this summer.

Normally, we place college students in summer elementary school classrooms as teaching assistants. That means they help out the teacher any way they can, from putting kids' work up on a bulletin board to running photocopies to helping with lesson plans.

This year, the St. Louis Public Schools, as well as just about every other school district in the area, cut summer school. What was once a 6 week program was reduced to 3 weeks of limited enrollment. So the Education Exchange Corps offered to provide summer programming for an additional 3 weeks--the 3 weeks of summer school and 3 weeks of volunteer-run summer enrichment programs.

From June 14-July 2, our volunteers and interns worked as teaching assistants within the summer school setting at 6 schools:
1) Froebel Elementary
2) Jefferson Elementary
3) Lexington Elementary
4) Gateway Elementary
5) Gateway Michael
6) The International Welcome School

Now, from July 6-July 23, we are staffing two summer enrichment sites, one at Froebel Elementary in the city's south side, and one at Jefferson Elementary, located closer to the north side.

Enrollment has been increasing each day, but so far we have been able to offer intensive instruction in math, reading, and writing to around 80 kids.
What's more, our kids are even participating in performance arts programs. At Jefferson Elementary, COCA is running an arts program for each grade four days a week, while at Froebel Elementary one of our volunteers is running a similar program five days a week.

I have also been personally running a science program at each school. For two days a week per school, I work with the kids to conduct some sort of experiment. So far kids have learned about convection currents and density from a hot/cold water mixing demonstration and have been exposed to the different states of matter and chemical changes through a slime experiment. I will write a separate post about the science lessons to give you all a taste of what is going on in the classrooms.

When the summer programs conclude, I will begin recruiting college students to participate in a part-time service program I will be running throughout the year.

Starting an organization, especially one that addresses a dire need in my community, has been an exciting experience, but two types of moments that occur during the course of our program always hold precedence in my heart over the others. The first is, of course, seeing the kids we work with learn something new and love every moment of it. The second is hearing about the volunteers' experiences after they have had time to reflect a few weeks after the program concludes. The sort of engagement that occurs in the classroom cannot be matched anywhere else, neither for the child who is learning the alphabet, nor for the volunteer teacher who is learning so much about our community, our future, and his or her own self.

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