Mike Decina @ Cooke Elementary:
"Once I got to Cooke and met my class, I felt overwhelmed. The classroom atmosphere was completely different then any educational environment I have ever been in. Once the class warmed up to me and I warmed up to the class, going to service became something I wanted to do to rather than a requirement. The looks on the kids’ faces every time I walk in the classroom makes me feel so wanted and makes me want to help them even more. I developed personal bonds with the children and this is something I did not think would happen. Helping them is really important to me because I know they do not have a lot in their life and I really want to teach them the importance of education. They live in rough times and if I can get them to focus on education I think it will really benefit them. Some of the children lack a consistent form of guidance in their lives and I feel like I can be this missing link. The effect the Villanova Students have on the children at Cooke is immeasurable and is the main reason why the Cooke program is so good; one can help these children out in so many ways. "
Julia Kallmes @ Cooke Elementary
“At Cooke Elementary and Middle school, we work as teachers’ assistants in grades K-8. Our responsibilities include accompanying the students to class, recess, and lunch, often helping with class work and monitoring activities. The challenges faced by the students at Cooke prove shocking and often distressing, and the classroom settings differ greatly from the majority of our elementary and middle schools. However, I returned week after week because of the students and the great friendships we shared. They greatly enjoy having a college volunteer in class, and in our roles we can influence their choices. I especially emphasized the importance of education and the necessity to treat others kindly. My time at Cooke forced me to reevaluate my priorities and those of the society in which I live.”
Adam Goodman @ Cooke Elementary:
"As part of the Cooke Elementary Peer Mediation program, our main duty is to educate selected students how to mediate problems that fellow students might be having. This is a new program that was designed by Villanova student and this is the third year that we are running Peer Mediation at Cooke. As of now, we have only three students that are trained and ready to mediate other students, and we are training two more. In order for this program to be successful we somehow need more students from Cooke to be motivated to become part of this program. Our job as Villanova students is easy. We are given a folder that takes us step by step on how to teach the students to be good mediators. I have had no past experience with Peer Mediation and teaching these students was really easy. I decided to stay with the program for the second semester as I would hope to see some results from what I have done as well as seeing the program grow."
Courtney Elms @ ESF Dream Camp:
“Dream Camp for me has been the constant high light of my weeks this year. The consistency I provide for the kids has meant more to me then I could have imagined and each week I can't tell who has missed who more. When choosing my service site, I knew that I wanted a variety of activities from tutoring to games and crafts with younger kids as well as some variety in age; I was able to find this plus a great group of kids all of whom I've gotten to know over the year. All the kids at dream camp have a different unique story but when it comes down to it: they're all just kids. I think Dream Camp is the place where no matter what your home life or school life is like, the kids can come to a loving, fun staff and just be kids. I asked one of the other college students at Dream Camp why she's continued coming back everyday for 3 years now and she simply said "I like to laugh," and I couldn't agree with her more. Before, during, and after Dream Camps the kids always have me smiling and sharing what went on the week or day before. Without a doubt Dream Camp has been a fantastic experience and I look forward to participating next year and growing with the kids.”
Gilsela Camba @ Urban Bridges:
"Service can be transformative. It can challenge and educate you as much as the people you are trying to help. In many ways that transformative experience for both the volunteer and the learner is the essential goal of SLC. Urban Bridges was and continues to be a transformative experience. Being able to help the people there in a fundamental and practical way that leads directly to tangible results is both demanding and satisfying. I know that teaching my two learners English, math, and the strategies to deal with the GED will enable them to better not only their lives but that of their children. I was fortunate to have two learners who I could relate with. As two immigrants from Liberia with one of them specifically trying to be a nurse, my learners reflected the experience and hopes of my own immigrant parents, and it was simply good to be able to help them in a way I could not help my own parents. Service is like that. It ends up being a web of good will that will inevitably touch you in more ways than one, and it was this specific service that not only touched me, but empowered me as a student with the capacity to share my education and transform the lives of others."
Anne Marie Kearing @ Urban Bridges:
“Service at Urban Bridges is very unique. Although the recipients of your service may not be adorable children, tutoring at Urban Bridges is equally as if not more fulfilling than working within the Philadelphia school system. The learners who are there are truly dedicated to their work and desperately want to learn. Because they only receive the opportunity to work with a tutor once or twice a week, they value each and every minute of your time. My two learners are willing and able to work straight through the full two hours because they have their eyes fixed on the goal of passing their GED exam. The willingness and focus of my learners did not necessarily make tutoring at Urban Bridges easy. This service site will constantly provide you with new challenges as you search for new ways of explaining concepts and different methods of teaching to help your learner prepare for his or her GED. It requires creativity, a willingness to teach independently, and an ability to think ‘outside of the box’.
Working with adults will also give you the opportunity to see the effects of poverty on these people who have lived truly difficult lives. I am sure that I have learned just as much from my learners as they have from me and I leave service every week knowing that I have been very blessed to have been provided with the privilege that I have. As gratifying as it is to be able to help someone learn to read, it is just as important to learn about the forces that have limited his reading skills and stunted his education. Working with adults allows the tutor a peek into the lives of the less fortunate and a chance to dialogue on the problems and challenges that they face on a daily basis and what can be done to remedy these social injustices.“
Sara Jane Leier @ The School of the Future:
"The School of the Future is a high school located in West Philadelphia that was developed through a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and Microsoft. The goal of this project is to create a “technology-based education model” that can be replicated in other communities around the world. All students are issued a laptop computer where all of their work is completed and then submitted. Teachers focus on “project-based learning” where students can see how various topics can be applied to many different subjects. As a volunteer at School of the Future, SLC students serve as after school tutors. Volunteers may be asked to tutor various subjects including, Math, Chemistry, English, and History. Service trips run in the afternoon, generally from 3:30-6:30. The School of the Future is a wonderful opportunity to work with high school students in the Philadelphia area."
Kent Grosh @ BEST Robotics:
"BEST Robotics is a middle and high school robotics program Philadelphia students participate in during the fall semester. Each year the students receive a kit with materials to build a robot that will compete against other robots in a game-style competition held in November. Also, each team writes a notebook, gives an oral presentation, and presents a table display at the competition. As a participant, you'll get to help students at the school you work with build their robots and prepare for the competition; the students get very into it and the competition is a lot of fun!
I think the robotics program offers a unique way to use your talents as an engineer or science major to help students. It's a great opportunity for extra-curricular involvement for the Philadelphia students, but it also encourages interest in and exposure to science and engineering. Many Philadelphia schools lack abundant material resources; you'll find that your technical skills as a college student will be applicable and helpful. And of course, you get to play with robots!"
Kent Grosh @ VESTED:
"VESTED (Villanova Engineering, Science, and Technology Enrichment Development) is a program that brings Philadelphia high school students to Villanova on the weekend during the spring semester and during the summer afterwards. The program exposes students to science and engineering through projects, experiments, and interaction with professionals who work in those fields. During the spring semester, the students come every other weekend during Saturday morning/afternoon.
I think the best part of VESTED is the students, they're energetic and curious, and they ask a lot of questions; it's a chance to interact and have fun with students from high schools all over the Philadelphia school district. Volunteers get to help run the program by running projects and experiments, assisting the older students with their research assignments, and leading some slightly less serious games and activities. As a University with excellent engineering and science programs, it's a way to apply our skills and knowledge while serving a real need for science and technology education in Philadelphia high schools without the resources that Villanova can provide. If science and engineering interest you, it's an excellent program well-worth getting involved in."