When I got accepted to Miami, I was very excited. I was being given the opportunity to go to the college I wanted! Not long after my acceptance, I also received an invite to join the Miami Regionals Honors program. I was thrilled that I was asked to join and quickly accepted my invitation. Joining the honors program has given me many opportunities to learn new things, meet new people, and gain new experiences. One such experience happened last spring semester when my honors class was given a service-learning opportunity at Amanda Elementary.
The Miami Honors program has really helped me to grow as a person and as a student through different opportunities and experiences. When my honors class was given the opportunity to take part in the service-learning experience to tutor at Amanda Elementary, I was very eager to get started. A big reason for my excitement is because for most of my life I have loved working with kids. I have been a Sunday school teacher at my church for many years, as well as a Bible school leader for as long as I can remember. I was also an elementary tutor at my high school during my senior year and a small group leader in the youth group. I was assigned to work with the first and second-grade students and I was very excited because this is the age range I had worked with the most before. The staff and students were very welcoming each week I was there.
The teachers greeted me with warm smiles and the students with uncontrollable excitement. I was told by their teacher that the students were falling behind in their reading, writing, and spelling skills. There were a few exceptions, but I noticed that most of the class was not developing these skills as quickly as they should. I would sit with these students each week and help them practice reading, writing, and spelling. They would read out loud to me so I could follow along, have me quiz them on their spelling, and practice writing their spelling words to help with both spelling and handwriting. This gave them the opportunity to practice these skills and learn from their mistakes.
As the weeks progressed, I began to learn how each child learned and what worked to keep them engaged. Some students had to go step by step, while others preferred to work on the entire assignment at once and then go back and fix their mistakes. Each child was unique in the way they learned and how they stayed engaged. These students found a new joy in learning and they began to improve their skills. They were excited to learn and even more excited to show off their new skills each time I would come in. Each student showed so much enthusiasm to learn and made tutoring them something that I looked forward to each week.
It may sound like everything went perfectly, but there were some ups and downs. Some of the students would be having bad days or get too upset to keep working. I watched as these children would try their best to focus on their work when they had to deal with so much other stuff back home.
Tutoring at Amanda was more than just an honors experience. These kids began to understand their school work, become more confident in their abilities and gained a desire to learn more. They will hopefully be able to use these skills in the future and continue to improve and learn. We may have only helped some students and teachers, but our impact on these students could impact the community.
This experience was just as impactful on the rest of the students in the honors class. Each week we would meet and discuss our progress at Amanda and would talk about how we’ve been able to impact the school and how much the school had impacted us. We all wanted to say that we impacted Amanda for the better, but we know that they were the ones impacting us. This is one college experience I will never forget.