Reasons: We have all the reasons, so look for the reasons that empower you and make a difference.
The reason we are inviting people to volunteer their time and attention to this pilot project is that our society is in great need of help and this is a simple, briefly time consuming and very personal way to make a huge difference in the life of someone who needs help to become a valuable member of our society. If you can’t commit to volunteering for six months but can help in other resources we will put you in a supporting group.
Statement of purpose: Teaching literacy (reading and writing) to the working poor via its children who will teach it to their parents . The ability to read with understanding and to love reading is the aim of this volunteer program which will unite kids and mentors for one hour a week (minimum) with a homework assignment of teaching to parents what was learned that day.
Ultimate goal: Finding the voice to tell one’s own story.
There will also be a monthly film component, where one evening a month an entertaining and socially interesting film will be shown with the filmmaker or a community expert on the subject attending for questions and answers after the film is made.
The final goal is that the student will learn to read and write with pleasure and understanding. Evaluation will be through teachers’ reporting back to the center and, later perhaps through some volunteer evaluation professionals. It will begin in March 2010 and will go through August.
Volunteers will give one hour a week for six months to develop a one on one relationship as a tutor/ mentor with a middle school student needing to learn to read and write. This pilot project's students are all clients (with their families) of El Centro del Pueblo, a not for profit community service agency founded in 1974 by Sandra Figueroa-Villa for the purpose of alleviating and mitigating negative effects of poverty and gang violence and of improving the quality of life for youth and families for prevention, intervention and education. Tutors will have support from interns and from one of the three departments which will select the students: L.A.’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development, L.A. City Department of Children and Family Services, L.A. County Department of Mental Health, Children and Family Services.
Goal setting and progress will be supervised initially by Sydney Levine, a volunteer who earned her Masters in Education at USC and has taught and volunteered as a student of University of California’s Tutorial Project, interned for two years in Willowbrook School District of Los Angeles County and taught five years in the Oakwood, Venice area of LAUSD. (However, she did this a long time ago and has been in the film business for most of her adult life.) Film will have a component with a monthly screening for all the Center’s constituency.
Tutors will take the child where he or she is at, initiate conversations to ascertain interests which will lead to what relevant materials will be used. We will have many books to choose from; a limited number of computers is also available. Perhaps sheet music will be available, or cook books with pictures. The choice of materials will be made by the students and from their choices, the tutors will be both assessing the student and helping develop the skill of discernment which is crucial to reading and many other activities but is rarely recognized as an actual academic skill. This is the sort of activity which develops through communicating and interest in the student. Tutors have many interests to share from creating telenovelas, to dancing, singing, physical activities, cooking, and all special interests are most welcome.
Experience in teaching is not a requirement because the program provides that teachers learn as much as the students. What is required is love, creativity and commitment for 6 months. The homework assigned to students is that the student must teach the parent what has been learned that day. Lessons will be designed as progress is made and will be based on a loose version of Ruth Schoenbach’s Strategic Literacy Network’s Reading for Understanding which everyone is invited to order through Amazon and read if interested.