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    District Enlists the Expertise of Students to Improve Volunteer Programming
    Posted on 02/15/2019
    A group of students pose for a photo in a classroom

    District Enlists the Expertise of Students to Improve Volunteer Programming

    As part of an effort to improve volunteer services and increase the ratio of volunteers in Title I schools, district staff have sought the voice of students to provide input on new volunteer supports in schools. Read about Title I schools.

    Across the district, over 20,000 adults volunteer their time to support students and schools in a variety of ways. Giving of their time, energy, and unique skills, school volunteers devote hours to encourage the success of every student in Seattle Public Schools.

    At Van Asselt Elementary, 4th grade teachers Ms. Isakson and Ms. Garcia match young scholars with dedicated volunteer tutors to partner one-on-one each week, with a focus on enhancing their fluency and comprehensions skills in literacy, in line with the schools’ improvement plan goals.

    Fourth graders Masoud, Mahmood, Enab, Suban, and Samiya are partnered with volunteer tutors that participate in their educational experience. When asked about the positive aspects of working with their tutors, Masoud, Samiya, and Suban share their appreciation for the range of reading material available during their sessions. “I like that she gets me books that I like!” says Masoud.

    Mahmood enjoys the relationship that has been built through the consistency of his partner volunteer being present each week for months and shares that his tutor Charles “gives advice and helps students.” Samiya shares enthusiastically about her tutor Nancy who supports her with reading. The young learner expresses her joy in learning about the retired lawyer’s legal career and life journey.

    When envisioning a picture-perfect tutor, Enab sees someone that is “nice and kind.” Masoud hopes that they would have similar interests, which Mahmood agrees with, adding that he would love to be partnered with a soccer player.

    As the conversation shifts to the dynamics of losing a volunteer for any number of reasons, Masoud notes that he would “feel sad” if one were to disappear. Because as Samiya points outs, the key is in the relationship aspect of tutoring. She enjoys sharing with her volunteer as her volunteer shares with her.

    It Takes a Village

    Charles Falzon is a family medicine doctor that volunteers to meet with five students, one-on-one, for about half an hour each week at Van Asselt Elementary. “I work on helping students build their vocabulary and elocution [style or manner of speaking or reading in public]”

    Part of the delight of sharing his time with young learners is the joy of watching students overcome a challenge through their own growth. Charles shares, “Watching the sense of accomplishment on their faces when they get through a story and they realize they understand what’s on the page, that’s the coolest thing for me to watch as I see them become more confident and excited to learn.”

    Entrepreneur Chenell Coppock moved to Seattle last summer from Williamsburg, Virginia. She is called to volunteer at Van Asselt through her own fond experiences as an elementary student that received math tutoring. Each week, she meets with four young female students that she credits for being creative and “all very funky with very unique interests.”

    For individuals who may be considering becoming a Seattle Public Schools tutor, Chenell shares, “It’s definitely about the reading but it’s also about encouraging. It's about coaching, it’s about being there, being present.”

    For her, the work is truly centered around community building, “Together we can contribute more to our community goals. It’s not hard. It can be a little scary at first if it’s your first time interacting with children or at a school, but if you can just give thirty minutes to students, you’ll feel great and they’ll feel confident.”

    Seattle Public Schools values the countless dedicated volunteers who work to support students in meeting their academic, social, and emotional goals. Across our district, volunteers are contributing to the strengthening of our community.

    Learn more about volunteering in Seattle Public Schools.