Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Student Reflection

by Katie Bednar

“SOAR-ing” at Booker T. Washington

This semester, I am participating in the SOAR Program at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Champaign. The program has a very interesting and hopeful history, started in 2006 by the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Illinois, the Latino Partnership, and Booker T. Washington. The program was developed out of a need that was expressed by members of the Shadowwood mobile home community in Champaign. After the cancellation of the afterschool program in their community, many of the Latino parents banded together to advocate for support for their children. Among their desires was homework help and afterschool enrichment for their children, along with parental education on helping their child succeed at home. In response to their concerns and community support, the SOAR (Student Opportunities for After-school Resources) Program was developed. And the rest is history (kind of).

The SOAR Program has been helping to meet the needs of many Latino, non-native English speaking students for almost four years. The volunteers that contribute to the program are helping to open the door for many of these students by assisting with homework and reading skills. For non-native speakers, the reading of English can prove to be a daunting and difficult task. And for many of these students, the SOAR Program is the only outlet through which they receive additional one-on-one reading support. Equally important, the volunteers in the program are able to act as mentors and friends to the students. This is a part of the program that I truly enjoy. I am able to tangibly see my student progress through the completion of homework assignments and readings. Additionally, I am able to form a meaningful relationship with a student that will hopefully have a positive impact on them. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been given to work with this great program!

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