Monday, June 16, 2008

From a Naval Avenue member's reflection on her year of service:

As an Americorps member, I experienced a lot of personal development over the past 10 ½ months. One of the biggest leaps of growth that I made was gaining stronger inner-dialogue. Prior to receiving this type of work I frequently worried about what others thought about me. However, thanks to my experience with Americorps, I worry less, and now I can express myself more confidently than ever before. I realize that being able to share ideas and opinions is a key component to creating a stronger and more effective team. Thus, I believe that I have acquired a more confident demeanor as a result of Americorps experience.

I believe that people who strive to be more confident, patient, or persistent will benefit greatly by joining Americorps. Americorps will not only guarantee personal development, but it will also hand you a grand educational award. Join Americorps and you will be making a wise choice for your future.


From a Naval Avenue member's reflection on his year of service:

When I graduated from college, I knew that I wanted to do something in my country that allowed me to better understand the effects that poverty had on the education of America’s youth. Almost a year later, I not only have come to understand the depths of the problems we face educating students in low-income communities, but I know that it’s something I want to continue to work toward in the future. In that regard, I can thank AmeriCorps for showing me a path that I want to follow as I aim to mitigate the educational difficulties faced by children and their families in urban areas.
I’ve also come to understand more about myself and how to more successfully work as a leader. Whether it was working with youth or with fellow members, I learned quickly how to convince others how to work their hardest toward a common goal. I learned that each individual requires a different motivating force to push them to do their best. Discovering what those forces were was one of the most enjoyable things about every aspect of our job as AmeriCorps members in this community. The opportunities AmeriCorps has offered for trenchant analysis of my own personality and the personalities of those around me have been some of the most enlightening I’ve had a chance to experience. I feel more capable to tackle the problems in urban education because of my AmeriCorps service, and I’m convinced now more than ever that it’s something we can change in this country.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Winding Down

The following is from a West Hills AmeriCorps member's narrative:

The year is slowly starting to wind down and I am amazed at how fast it has been going! The students seem to be contemplating the end of the school year and as excited as they are for summer vacation, most realize that their day-to-day activities will be different and they are going to miss interacting with us. One of the boys involved in our Civic Engagement project stopped me and another member in the hall on separate occasions and said that he really missed meeting with us on Wednesdays and that he wished he could participate in it again next year. When I told one of my second graders that I wouldn't be at the school next year, he frowned and gave me a big hug. Those moments help me remember why I chose to be here in the first place and I am pleased to be ending my time on such a good note.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Chess Club at Naval

This is a member narrative from October:

We have a chess club here at Naval Avenue Elementary. We have 10 students that show up on a regular basis. Eight out of 10 students are 1st graders who have never played chess before. But after just 3 weeks of having chess club 4 days a week, all 8 of my first graders are playing at intermediate level. In just 3 weeks, I am amazed on how fast these 6 & 7 years olds are picking up this game.

Photo credit:

Little Victories

I’ve been spending about 20 minutes a day with a young man with developmental difficulties. He was brought to our school a few months ago when he somehow destroyed a classroom in a fit of rage. At the beginning of our tutoring sessions he showed me he had knowledge of the alphabet but blending was an alien concept to him. After much practice, he is now blending words up to five letters long and even beginning to attempt comprehension questions.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Winding Down

Well, it's been quite the year here at Naval Avenue.

We've tutored more than 100 students. We've put on family nights. We've hosted several community service events, from our Martin Luther King Jr. Day Career and Job Recruitment event -- more than 60 people attended and more than 10 organizations and college representatives were there -- to our work with middle school students, helping them come up with their own community service project. They decided to design a Website to address the issue of domestic violence in Bremerton. We spent more than two months with the 18 students, going through all the steps it takes to design a successful community service project.

We've got 17 days left, and many of us are going on to other things, but there's no doubt that we have all been impacted by our time tutoring students and working to better the Bremerton community. Some of us will continue to work in the schools here, and some of us are moving to other states to continue our work in community development and education.
Whatever it is that we will be doing in the future, hopefully the difference we've made in the students' lives will be felt for years to come.

Photo credit: Corporation for National and Community Service

Sunday, April 20, 2008

CE Proves To Be Truly Rewarding

Working with our CE groups has proved to be a truly rewarding experience. A particular 'Ah-Ha' moment that stuck out for me was when we were talking about different types of community service projects the kids could create. Each student was throwing out different ideas of problems in our community when one student suggested the problem of not enough places to shop for designer clothes. Another student politely raised her hand and in the nicest way she possibly could, reminded her peers that we are trying to focus on community needs, not community wants. She proceeded to explain that while it would be nice to have more places to shop for designer clothes, that is not something that our community needs in order for the members to survive. Quite a few of the students, including the student that made the suggestion for more designers clothing stores immediately had that "Ah-ha" look on their faces and from then on out were able to successfully identify needs in the community instead of their personal wants.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Little Things

Each morning, Alex comes running into our room, smiling ear to ear. He’s a kindergartener with so much energy that he tends to find himself in trouble more often than not. He can’t keep his hands off things and when he breaks down, screams reverberate off the walls and down the hall, or fists and forearms smash down on tables. Moving foster homes frequently will do that to a kid, it seems. So, when we get a chance to work with Alex and show him that someone really does care about him succeeding, we take advantage of it.

He comes every morning to our early reading club, and he laughs, talks, and seems to enjoy himself the whole time he’s there, usually, because he knows that we truly care about him. Seeing him finally be happy in school when we walk into his classroom or when he comes to visit us throughout the day helps us see just how important WRC members are. It's unfortunate that children with tons of energy like Alex are sometimes stifled and forced to live by rules no one has taken the time to explain to them in elementary terms. Alex is doing better in class now, and I’d like to think that we played a role in making him finally feel welcome in his school.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Closing Out the Year and Looking Forward to the Next One

As we wind this year down, the Washington Reading Corps in the Bremerton School District is looking forward to several projects we are trying to complete.
  1. Community service projects-Armin Jahr and Naval Avenue are leading a group of Mountain View Middle School students in a curriculum that helps them design their own community service project. View Ridge and West Hills are working with a group of fifth-graders from West Hills to help them create and implement their own project, too. Updates on both of these projects will come soon.
  2. Cementing solid programs for next year-A large part of being successful in a school setting is establishing consistent programs that teachers and students can rely on each year. All of our focus is dedicated right now to making sure that each tutoring program we run is as solid as it can be so that the members and volunteers who will dedicate their time next year can be successful from the first day of the school.
  3. Family nights-Although there are less than three months of school left, the Washington Reading Corps is dedicated to making sure that families are involved in their children's learning at school. By providing parents with an opportunity to get involved, students can receive the support they need at home to improve in the classroom. Check out our calendar to see what events we have planned as we close out the year.
Yeah, to say the least, our work is cut out for us. We look forward to sharing what we're doing with you as we continue to strive toward the goal of providing the support that all our students need to be successful.