Reflections on Service in Arizona

by Gabrielle ’17

I love working with kids. Always have. But teaching children who are struggling terribly in school is a bit harder than I imagined. Let me give you a picture: a group of students going into third grade next who can barely add or subtract, who struggle with basic reading skills, and who consistently score 33 percent or less on assignments. The worst part: they have little to no work ethic, or believe, as one told me, the work is impossible to do. The teacher I am helping, Mr. Cly, explained that the issue stemmed from the home where parents or grandparents did not hold children responsible for helping around the house or for their schoolwork. 

A teacher can try their best to instill in their students a strong work ethic but in the meantime they need to make the summer program fun enough to keep the kids coming. How do you do that? Play time, and lots of it. My students have PE, recess, and lunch every day about thirty minutes long. That’s an hour and a half in a five hour day devoted to free time. In addition, on Mondays and Wednesdays they go swimming for forty-five minutes in the morning, which only allows twenty minutes of teaching before PE. How does one balance the need for play and the desperate need for a strong academic foundation?

It breaks my heart knowing that today’s world is not kind to those who can’t add or read. Those small moments, however, when you successfully help a child realize that the task is not impossible make the struggle worth it.


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Filed under Service, Students

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