This AmeriCorps Week, we’re highlighting JV AmeriCorps service throughout the Northwest. JV AmeriCorps member Bridget Hinton serves in Grays Harbor, WA, a co
This AmeriCorps Week, we’re highlighting JV AmeriCorps service throughout the Northwest. JV AmeriCorps member Bridget Hinton serves in Grays Harbor, WA, a community that has struggled economically since changes in timber policy in the 1970s.
I am currently serving as the Youth Education Program Coordinator through Catholic Community Services in Grays Harbor, Washington. My position is dynamic in the sense that I serve at the Feed the Hungry program each day and coordinate all aspects of the youth education program. I spend my afternoons with some of the most inspiring, fun and engaged students I have ever met. The youth education program serves a total of eight students, both elementary and junior high, who struggle in school for a variety of reasons. Some students have learning disabilities. For some, English is not their first language and/or not the primary language spoken at home, and others experience very difficult home lives living in extreme poverty. In a broken education system where there is a lack of resources and/or unequal distribution of resources, and where support is hard to come by, the students in the youth education program work diligently to succeed.
At Catholic Community Services, the community volunteers and I work to foster a positive learning environment where we do small activities to keep students focused and motivated. Each week, we concentrate on a different word of the week, write in responsive journals where students and I write back and forth to each other and give team points every time students write in their planners (we are currently working towards 250 team points!). For the Word of the Week we have focused on words such as tenacious, cooperation, and persistent. One week, we learned about the word determined and the volunteers, students and I talked about what it means, what it looks like, and what it sounds like to be a determined student. One student in particular was exceptionally determined that day when she completed a number of missing assignments from her history class. This student took the initiative to be honest with me and admit to her missing work. We spoke about how she is not a bad student for not having completed her assignments and turned it into a learning opportunity and a chance to practice living out being a determined student. This student pushed through, worked alongside a volunteer, and successfully completed her assignments. I have seen tremendous growth in each student’s confidence level since the beginning of the year, and I am hopeful that the tools learned in our program will carry over in other aspects of the students’ lives.