Mary Beth Writes

Two things today – both related to schools.

1. I’ve volunteered for three years at Whittier Elementary School in Waukesha.  Once a week I walk out of my world into 3rd grade world and while I am there, my world simply disappears!

If you are the kind of person who is fond of kids who have ordinary and extraordinary challenges with reading and learning and doing kid-math – please consider being a volunteer, too.  You can call up schools near you. 

If you live in Waukesha, you can call Mary Green, the Social Worker at Whittier. Her # is 262-970-2805. Mention my name, she knows you might call.  There are a handful of volunteers who help at Whittier; there is not one-size-fits-all volunteer program. Ms. Green will ask you what you like to do; you will talk with her for a while and come up with a plan. After that she will connect you to a teacher who would love to have a consistent volunteer. 

Consistency is important. If you travel a lot or are gone for months at a time, this is probably not a situation for you. Kids need to know you will show up and show up and show up again. 

I love what I do. In the past I sat with one kid at a time as they read to me. I helped them sound out words, asked if they understood what they just read, smiled and gave them high-fives when they got through a hard page.  It is so much fun. You sort of act as their Golden Retriever who can talk.

This year I am working steadily with one adorable and motivated child. I bring “extra” things for her to read or look at, since she is a bright child who can soak up extra challenges.  There is another kid in this class who is just as motivated and ready for a mentor, but there are no extra adults to work with him an hour per week. 

That gentle, smart, responsible kid is the one who prompted me to write this piece today.

... 

2. Whittier has a Makers’ Space.  This is a room next to the school library where kids invent and make things that support what they are learning. The space has some amazing upscale resources – but it also goes through a LOT of ordinary supplies. I was with the kids this past week as they were inventing and building musical instruments. There were not enough paper towel tubes! There were not enough boxes.! They were short on tape!

If you know me, save some of these supplies, give them to me, I will take them to Whittier. 

  • Sturdy boxes the size of shoe boxes or smaller.
  • Paper tubes. They have enough TP tubes, think paper towels or wrapping paper tubes.
  • Tape!  Colored tape. Did you buy Washi tape years ago and never used it up?  The kids will love it! Scotch tape. Masking tape. Duct tape. Little tapes. Big tape!
  • Pads of nice paper. Not lined stuff, but those pads of art paper many of us have around from when our kids were young.  Half used pads of lovely paper would be great.
  • Empty, de-labelled, washed-out sturdy detergent plastic bottles. 

The kids seem to have enough string, thread, ribbon and twine.  They don’t need more plastic water bottles. Kids tried to work with them, but those flimsy bottles are nearly useless; kids can’t cut them or poke holes in them and neither could I.

Kids need materials that they can manipulate with scissors and imagination. Their enthusiasm is so much fun.

Comments

I know the kids love you. Volunteering is on my bucket list for retirement.
Mary Beth's picture

Getting a random hug from a little kid who is not one's "own" little kid is the best....

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