When was the last time an 8 year old boy held open the door for you? You may think that happened at Southpark Mall or maybe one of the many private schools here in Charlotte. Nope, that happend today as I was visiting one of the most challenged schools in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Districts.
My church has adopted an elementary school that has the majority of students on free and reduced lunches and overall has students that come from troubled and transient backgrounds. This week we are helping with a program called LOVE to Read where volunteers come in each day and read to the students with books based on a theme. Today's theme was "Citizenship" and I was asked to read to 4th graders. I will admit, it was a little tough to find books but I did thanks to the help of the kind people at the book store.
When I arrived at the school, I was told that this school was ranked LAST in the district on literacy and test scores and one of the lowest in the ENTIRE state. I am so glad that our church has decided to adopt this school. We won't make changes overnight but programs like this will help them see growth and help their students know they are loved.
I read to two classes and asked students to define Citizenship. Both classes came up with the right definitions - the boring one, to literally be a citizen and the warm fuzzy one that talks about the behavior expected of a citizen - to be kind, helpful, contributing member, etc. I picked two books. One more on the literal definition and the other more on the warm and fuzzy side.
Here are the basics of the books...
A Storm Called Katrina
One family's struggle during the aftermath of the hurricane and what NOT to do to be a good citizen as we learn how people behaved in the superdome. This one was kind of a stretch but I think the kids liked it and they were very quick to say that they would have been nice to other people and tried to help rather than getting into fights like what happened in the story.
So You Want To Be President
This one was cute but long. It gave lots of unique information all about the Presidents - pets, hobbies, feelings on being President with the closing thought that all Presidents no matter what their background all wanted to do what's best for our country and to serve their country. The kids also liked this one and laughed outloud a few times.
This was a great experience and I wish my schedule allowed for me to be a tutor for one of these children. When I asked if they had any questions one girl asked "are you going to come back?" Oh I wish I could come everyday! They still need volunteers so I will be back on Friday for sure but hopefully other times too.
So even though this school is ranked one of the lowest in the city, I found such sweet students who were respectful, courteous, kind and eager to learn. I think I gained much more from this experience than they gained from me.
For more on how you can help this school, Walter Byers School, go to www.watershedcharlotte.com.
Looking forward to Friday...