Fighting Poverty with Passion
The Journey to Learning is continuing at Kedila, and October has been the busiest month yet! I have finally begun to get into the swing of being an AmeriCorps VISTA, and I’m now focusing on how I can learn from and grow the most with Kedila this year.
I thought a good place to start would be direct interaction, volunteering with the students, so I began attending our After School Program at Banneker Elementary and Middle School. Working with these kids has already put my blessings into perspective and has also highlighted how worthwhile Kedila’s program is. Some of the second grade students are still struggling with recognizing and pronouncing letters, and even sixth graders have trouble pronouncing several basic words. One sixth grader had learned division in class a few weeks prior and continues to struggle with multiplication. Kedila’s program gives students the individualized attention they need to overcome basic literacy and math problems. On a special note, on October 8, New Orleans underwent a Boil Water Advisory, and most students in our program had consumed very little water all day. At the end of our program, in an effort to prevent dehydration, we provided our students with a juice box, which they may not have received at home.
I noticed that many of the students have behavioral problems in groups but not when given one-on-one attention. When surrounded by equally rowdy classmates, students do not feel as if they are receiving the attention they desire and feel the need to be louder to attain more attention. Positive one-on-one attention and encouragement, of which they are deserving, really does make all the difference in motivating students to focus and work harder. When they know that someone cares about them, they enjoy what they are learning, do not feel the need to act up, and feel more capable of performing the task at hand.
This underscores the importance of volunteers, service learners, and our intern in Kedila’s After School Program. I have been recruiting volunteers, coordinating orientations, and answering questions. The volunteers, service learners, and intern have been amazing thus far, truly connecting with the students and making a difference in their lives. Students see these volunteers as mentors and look forward to seeing them week after week, even naming and quoting them. Students look up to the Kedila volunteers and instructors, asking them questions about college and life in general. Kedila is grateful to Hands On New Orleans, Loyola, Tulane, and Volunteer Match for help with recruiting quality volunteers who are positively impacting the lives of second grade and sixth grade students at Banneker.
I am also grateful that the volunteers, service learners, and intern have been bearing with us as we adapt to the RSD program time change and also to the recent transition of a new program manager. Our program manager for the last three years, Justina George, recently left Kedila and will be greatly missed. I learned a lot from her in my first two months with Kedila. I look forward to working with and learning from Kedila’s new program manager, Joan Rothschild, in the coming months. Ms. Joan has served as an instructor for our After School Program for the past two years.
Another exciting part of October for Kedila was our service event storage clean up. Thank you to all of the Tulane VISTAs for coming to Banneker and helping us reorganize and inventory our storage unit! With our new Program Manager on board, it is especially important for us to get organized and know what resources we have to make our After School enrichment activities the best they can be!
Another recent task of mine has been to expand Kedila’s social media. While at the After School Program, I take pictures for our website (kedila.org), Facebook page (facebook.com/KedilaNewOrleans), and blog (kedilalearningservices.wordpress.com). I also created a Kedila Twitter Account. Please check out some pictures from our After School Program on our social media!