Recently at Smith Elementary, AmeriCorps member Andrea has been working with her Community Engagement Specialist Ambar Suero to not only increase parent engagement but increase student engagement as well. Working together, they’ve decided to take part in the Young Philanthropists Foundation’s Penny Harvest Program.
Students who were identified as showing great participation, attendance and enthusiasm towards helping their community were chosen to be members of the Young Philanthropist Roundtable. Their participation has encouraged their classmates to want to learn more about what they can do to also help improve their community.
One student and his family were recently acknowledged for demonstrating this type of positive behavior by having their picture displayed on the V.I.P board (Very Impressive Participation) board (designed and created by Andrea!). The student, Andrew, has displayed impressive participation not only in class and through his outstanding attendance, but also through his participation on the school’s basketball team and by supporting his younger brother who is sits on the Young Philanthropist Roundtable through the Penny Harvest. Andrew was not only rewarded by having his picture on display board, but by Ambar Suero, who rewarded him with three movie passes and a free popcorn voucher so Andrew and his family could enjoy a movie together.
Since Andrea has started serving at Smith Renaissance School, she has built a professional relationship with many of the students, which has proved very beneficial. During a service project on November 8th, Andrea organized a garage sale in the lobby of the school in order to help raise money to support the 5th grade ski trip. At first she was hesitant about getting everything set up and ready in time, but relatives of students who attend Smith showed up and helped with everything! What surprised her the most were two students who didn’t attend Smith, but their cousins did, heard about the project and showed up to help out. One of the school’s Paraprofessionals, Cecilia, made a significant contribution to the garage sale and, along with her husband and two children, stayed late that Friday night to help Andrea clean everything up.
Andrea has been amazed by how many students she has gotten to know so quickly through her student attendance caseload. Through the students she checks in with daily, Andrea has been introduced to friends, siblings and parents and has been able to build effective relationships with the whole family. Andrea believes building these relationships have contributed to her students positive increase in attendance as well as her ability to leverage parents and others to help her with implementing service projects, as they all continue to work to better serve the community.