Since beginning my term of service with Denver Public Schools (DPS) Office of Family and Community Engagement Urban Education AmeriCorps program, where I serve at Greenlee Elementary, I have quickly learned that working directly with students is the most rewarding part of my service. Recognizing this, I have shaped my service projects to benefit students as directly as possible.
Two service projects that exemplify my commitment to serving students are a partnership with Denver Public Library’s “Reading Rocket” and a partnership with the William E. Cope Boys and Girls Club. Both of these projects seek to improve the literacy skills of Greenlee Elementary students through creative and engaging ways. The “Reading Rocket” is a brightly painted mobile library that stops in front of Greenlee once a week, allowing students to check out books and DVDs. With this project, I have sought to increase student participation with the program. Every Wednesday from 12:00pm-1:15pm (when the Reading Rocket stops at Greenlee), I accompany students to and from the bus. Helping students pick out books from the Reading Rocket is one of the bright spots of my week, especially when students decide to check out a book that I personally enjoyed as a child. The Reading Rocket project also has great opportunity for growth.
I have found that service projects only become more rewarding as they evolve and reach a wider audience. In the spring, I will seek to increase the number of students who visit the Reading Rocket on a weekly basis by discussing the mobile library with individual classes and advocating student usage of the Reading Rocket with the teachers at the school.
In another service project, I support the Cope Boys and Girls Club after school. This has not only allowed me to spend more time with Greenlee students, but has also given me more insight into their schoolwork. The Cope Boys and Girls Club offers an afterschool homework and reading program, called “Power Hour”, for elementary students. I serve at the Boys and Girls Club twice a week, alongside AmeriCorps members Katie and Shewit, both serving at West Career Academy, and help students with their literacy skills. For the first part of Power Hour, students work on their homework with the help of volunteers. Once their homework is completed, students are free to choose books from the vast collection at the club which they then complete quizzes on. The extra reading time is incredibly valuable to Greenlee students and, over the two months I have been at the Boys and Girls Club, I have seen vast improvement of reading skills amongst the students.
When I chose to serve with the DPS Office of Family and Community Engagement Urban Education AmeriCorps program, I did so because I knew I wanted to help students in need. What I did not realize is just how rewarding it would be my term of service would be. As I continue through my term, I will keep developing service projects like the Reading Rocket and Boys and Girls Club partnerships to continue serving students as directly as possible.
William Chorba, AmeriCorps member