Thursday, April 29, 2010

Community Partner Spotlight: Central High School

by Kirsten Hope 

I went to Central High School this morning, and I had such a good time! So far, I’ve had really great experiences visiting all the places of service, but Central has been the most fun.  When I got there, our student Jennifer Richardson was working with an ESL student on American History.  The high school student wasn’t Spanish-speaking, but Jennifer did an amazing job helping her even though she didn’t know her native language.  During my visit, there were a few other students who came in for help, all of whom were ESL learners, but whose linguistic backgrounds were not Spanish.  It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to see any Spanish-speaking going on, but that is one of the caveats we tell students to keep in mind at the beginning of the semester.  In addition to observing the tutoring going on, I also got to participate in some tutoring!! I helped one of the first students to come in on a few questions, and then worked through two pages of American History worksheets with Dini, a student from Albania.  Not only did I learn that I need to refresh my knowledge of US History, but I experienced first-hand the enjoyment both students and tutors can have from developing a relationship.

Going to Central follows nicely from my visit to Leal earlier this week, because I again saw the value that a relationship between students can have.  In Leal, I observed this relationship from afar, but through actually tutoring for 30 minutes, I got to experience what it’s like to work with a student and get to know him or her.  This experience definitely made me remember how much I like working with high school students, and, again, emphasized the importance of the service our students provide.  My class and I actually discussed this important relationship today, and they had some really great insights into the tutor-tutee relationship, disclosing that they see first hand how these students need role models in their lives.  I think that having an older peer as a role model is invaluable for younger students, and Central not only reaffirmed this fact, but also showed me how younger students can also have an impact on us!  I never think about the effect that younger students can have, but I must admit that I left Central with some new ideas about ESL students and getting to know others.  So, even though our students may not be using Spanish on a consistent basis, they nevertheless help high school students who may struggle with English as a Second Language and form these mutually beneficial relationships with them!

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