What’s the best part about Halloween? – well besides the candy, of course! When I was growing up, my favorite part about Halloween was the possibility of being anything I wanted to be, even if just for a day. Superman, a cowgirl, army men, scarecrows, the Cheshire Cat, and Darth Vader – these are all characters that kids can step into the shoes of in the name of good fun and treats.
But, what about the rest of the year? Does your child imagine herself as an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a veterinary technician, or a writer? As a community of staff, parents, and volunteers who want to see all of our students reach their dreams and their fullest potentials in life, it is our job to help our children see themselves in these roles too! Because, it is possible for them to be anything they want to and not just on Halloween!
So, how do we, as a community, build them up to have the confidence to pursue their educational dreams?
We should be constantly encouraging them to pursue their interests, through speech and through action. As a volunteer working in the classroom, you can speak positively and openly about your career experiences, what led you to the work that you do, and what it’s like to be in your shoes. It’s essential for students to have those community role models. As a staff member, in the school environment, we see when children are expressing a true interest in a subject, and we can encourage that activity by saying something like “Wow, you are really doing a great job with this! Have you ever thought about a career in…?”
And, as parents, you are the first line of communication when it comes to your child exploring future careers, so talk with them regularly. Ask your child what they are interested in and what they like about school. Speak positively and encouragingly about those interests, and always let them know that you support their dreams and aspirations. It will give them a solid foundation from which they can take off, explore, and succeed.
What does your child see himself as? Maybe this Saturday, it’s Superman, but maybe in his future, it’s travelling the world as an airline pilot. The possibilities are just as endless as they are attainable.
By Chris Keates, Adult Education Volunteer
I’ve been volunteering at Guadalupe for something like five years, and while I could cover a number of different topics, there are two observations related to my time here that I’d like to talk about:
1) There are things I find consistently enjoyable and fulfilling when it comes to teaching, even years after my first class and teaching similar concepts over and over.
What are these things? Perhaps it’s best for me to describe why I decided to come here in the first place. Right after graduating college, I was of course excited to start my “adult life” – you know, get a job, cook things other than Top Ramen, etc. What caught me by surprise was how suddenly I felt disconnected from the community, like I was turning off that part of my brain where all of the social consciousness stuff resides. Luckily, I recalled one volunteering event that I did for Guadalupe School years earlier (it was actually handing out candy for the Children’s’ Halloween Program or something!), so on a whim I called and made arrangements to start teaching. My first impressions still hold true today.
Specifically, the staff are cool and keep things running smoothly, it’s obvious the instructors truly care about student outcomes and treat us tutors like friends rather than employees, and of course the students are smart, surprising and inspiring in ways that I believe are unique to this community. I could keep going here, but the point is the stuff that drove me to start volunteering many years ago still holds true today, and I would hope that all tutors have their own combination of motivations and attitudes that will keep them coming back as well.
2) It’s okay if you can’t speak the students’ respective languages: despite me not knowing how to speak Spanish, Portuguese, Ukrainian, or Vietnamese I have taught students from these language backgrounds and I would argue that not sharing a common tongue actually forces you to engage students in more creative ways.
Now, I’d be lying if I said I never use the trusty ol’ Spanish to English dictionary when I need to quickly explain a word’s meaning, but when it comes to explaining a concept or rule of the English language, I simply can’t rely on my spotty Spanish skills to get the point across. Above all, do not get frustrated or discouraged. I really believe in reciprocity when it comes to effort, and if the students can see you trying your best to explain something, they will in turn try their best to understand it. I do not think I’m qualified to share any “best practices” when it comes to teaching methodology, but I would encourage tutors in similar situations to try and think of three or four different ways to explain a concept/rule/etc.
Use the whiteboard, speak an example in slow and plain English, pull up a picture of the word on your phone while you’re teaching. Recently, my group wanted to know what “Motown” music was – so beyond a verbal explanation I pulled up some audio samples of that music genre. How else could I have better explained that? Just be creative, and you will feel immensely satisfied when you see your students understanding your lesson.
Every house has a foundation, and those with the strongest foundations prove to weather the changes and storms along the way. Anyone who works within the academic or nonprofit fields could tell you that the foundation of any rock solid organization – those that weather the ups and downs – are the stalwart volunteers who give of their time, energy, and talents to benefit an amazing cause, albeit with what some would deem a small personal return. The thing is, dedicated volunteers understand that the personal reward may not be quantified in a dollar amount or with highly visible and public accolades; however, there is definitely a reward of personal satisfaction when one understands the importance and value of their work.
Nonprofits rely on those who believe in their missions to provide the means for success and progression. This can come in the form of monetary funding, or simply the help of extra bodies and minds to work in unity in order to pull off activities that often benefit the parts of communities with the greatest immediate needs. Volunteers not only bring the man-power necessary to provide resources to those in need, but additionally provide the invaluable experience, opinion, and input of involved community members that ultimately create stronger organizations.
At Guadalupe School, this can come in the form of parent volunteers, who spend hour after hour calling other parents, informing them of the ways in which they can become more informed and involved as active participants in the excellent academic programs provided. In addition, community members who sign up to tutor on a weekly basis, allow for a more individualized experience to students, both young and old, in reading and ESL programs. Even corporations contribute in meaningful ways, by providing their employees as volunteers to help run large events such as carnivals and holiday parties, creating a warmer and more personal experience for the families of our various programs.
As the Volunteer Coordinator here at Guadalupe School, I have personally observed the amazing foundation being laid for our nonprofit through the consistent efforts of our incredible volunteers. Guadalupe has weathered many big changes in recent years and come through even stronger, because our foundation holds with the support of dedicated individuals who provide the fuel needed to motor us to the finish line with each of our academic and community goals.
Volunteers like those at Guadalupe set a powerful example for the community at large. When friends, family, co-workers, etc. see the positive results achieved on the part of corporations, community members, and actively involved families, they will effectively see that making change is easier than it looks when all parts of a community join forces. Volunteers also influence social change within the mentality of a community as they bridge cultural gaps whether along the lines of ethnicity, language, or any other demographic line that could possibly be seen as a barrier. Because of this needed example, community members can begin to see diversity as a tool for sustainable change and wide-ranging ideas.
Everyone likes the idea of a town carried over its obstacles on the shoulders of Superman. However, as more of a realist, I like the idea of a community carried on the many shoulders of volunteers – the more shoulders the lighter the burden for us all. I am proud to say that Guadalupe volunteers are showing a wonderful example to the community of what it is to be the sturdy foundation of an organization that leads out in positive development.
- Cassie Bingham, Volunteer Coordinator
By Danielle Lankford, Communications Specialist
October is anti-bullying month, a great time to refresh on how to handle bullies for students, teachers, and parents. But what exactly is bullying? According to stopbullying.gov an act of bullying is "unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose."
Sometimes, a child may be bullied at school, but does not alert the teacher to the behavior. Therefore, it's important for parents to also be aware of what constitutes bullying, and what you as a parent can do about it. That's why we've put together for you a list of Top 5 online resources that explain how to recognize bullying, how to talk to your child about it, and what to do if it happens to your child.
The Bully Project - The Bully Project has all the downloadable resources you would ever need when dealing with bullying, and they even have some in Spanish too! Check out this page for everything from action lists to prevention tips to questions to ask your student if you suspect they are being bullied.
Stop Bullying. GOV - A very short and sweet list of what you as parents can do when it comes to stopping bullying. This list is straightforward, but very informative.
National Bullying Prevention Center - The National Bullying Prevention Center site has videos and stories you can share with your child when talking about bullying and resources on everything from bullying statistics to how to handle bullying when your child has a disability. They also have a section that talks about how to get involved with their anti-bullying campaigns.
Anti-Bullying Pro - This site helps parents understand bullying, how you can support your child if they are experiencing bullying, and most importantly, to learn the laws surrounding bullying.
STOMP Out Bullying - A great list for parents of actions to take, if you find out that your child has been bullied. There are also resources on this site for recognizing bullying behavior, cyberbullying, and what to do if your child is exhibiting bullying behaviors.