Pigs are going to fall from the sky! Sarah Palin will say something intelligent! Totally out of the ordinary- two posts in one week!
Since I've becoming unemployed, I decided to pick up my volunteerism and get in touch with my local community. In November of last year, I started volunteering at:
Maple is located on Beacon Hill and many of the students live beneath the poverty line, receive free lunches and don't have the basic amenities that you and I have. Many poor families have an average of 1.5 books in their home. That's an average! Keeping students engaged in reading, with so many other technological distractions, is a huge challenge. Twice a week, I tutor three 4th grade students in reading (as well as help with Math- which sometimes isn't the biggest help and also spend time in the 1st grade room). My reading tutor time is especially neat because I get to see the growth and change in the students' learning- first hand!
Prior to spring break, I was asking the tutorees- what are you going to do during Spring Break? Most questions were met with blank stares. One student said "Um, watch TV?" Of course, these students aren't going to be whisked away to Disneyland for their time off. Their parents are working and don't always have time to do fun activities at home with their family.
So, in an effort to keep the students engaged in reading, I bought each of them a little set of books. (FYI. Borders has some AWESOME deals. $0.40 books? Hello!) I made each of the students close their eyes and I set their books out in front of them. I picked one chapter book for each of them and then a easy, more fun book. (Most of their reading levels are below their grade.) They all looked surprised, but pleased when they opened their eyes. One student, who I will call Z, said "thanks" right away, which delighted me. I suggested that they continue reading on their own for their week of break.
Today was my first day back to school after the break. During tutoring, Z handed me a sealed envelope. Inside the hand written letter said:
Dear Ms. Hirabayashi,
Thank you for the books. I love the books that you gave me I like the Judy Blume and the Double Fudge the most. Also, in the book Pirates of the Carribean at world's end, Singapore, you said that keep up the great work. I will try my best. And I promise to read the books you gave me.
P.S. Once again I love the books.
This letter was the BEST compliment I have received since volunteering. I hope my tutoring has a little reading influence overall. What a wonderful warm fuzzy feeling!