Teen Volunteering at McKinley Elementary School

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As we get closer to accepting submissions for our 5th Annual High School Essay Contest we will be re-posting some blogs written by our high school interns. We hope these will inspire high school students in CT to send a submission to the Essay Contest and share with us "Why volunteering and making an impact on your community is important to you?" Note: Submissions will ONLY be accepted November 1st - November 8th. To learn more about the essay contest or volunteer opportunities in your community, visit our site today and sign up to receive custom emails when opportunities are posted. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too!

Volunteering at McKinley School by Julia Haskins, Lauralton Hall class of 2018

The Wakeman Outreach Program at McKinley School provides after-school programs for McKinley Elementary School’s diverse student population and volunteer opportunities for high school students. The program strives to improve students’ social skills, general wellness/fitness, and academic performance.

I first heard about mentoring at Mckinley Elementary School through some of my friends. They would talk about what a great experience it was working with the kids and getting to know them. Something that surprised me, that they mentioned, was how much you actually mean to your mentees. My friends shared that throughout the course of the program, you form such a strong bond with the students that you mentor, you become a true role model for them. Every week the students look forward to the one on time you spend with them, so it is important that the high school mentors take that time seriously and be really involved.

On an average day at McKinley, I start off by signing in at the main office. Then I find my mentee’s classroom to observe their behavior and see where they are struggling and what their strengths are. If they need any help with the classwork they are completing or have any questions, I am there as a resource as well. Then my mentee and I get dismissed to the library where I help her with her homework for that day. This is followed by a ten minute reading period and free time to get to know my mentee with board games, crafts, etc. For the remainder of the day, we go outside for some fresh air and exercise until the buses arrive. At the end of the day, mentors are required to fill out a survey about their mentees performance, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses on that particular day.

My experience at McKinley allows me to do something I love, work with children, and it not only benefits my mentee but the community as a whole. It has taught me the importance of patience, diligence, and generosity. I have also learned to really dedicate my time to the students in a sincere manner because although it is only two hours spent with them once a week, this time means the world to them. I am extremely excited to continue mentoring at McKinley for the remainder of the year and next and am so thankful for the opportunity I’ve had. It has been a truly rewarding experience.

Just like my friends encouraged me to mentor at McKinley, I strongly urge other teens to do the same. Mentoring is not your average community service project. I look forward to mentoring every week because McKinley is a happy environment surrounded by friendly elementary school students and many teens that are there to mentor just like me. There is no feeling that compares to the satisfaction I receive from giving back. Mentoring has made me realize how fortunate I am which has made my experience at McKinley that much more rewarding.