ago I became a volunteer assisting with reading at a local elementary
school. The opportunity for this program was presented to our Rotary
Club by several teachers from the elementary school. We were trained
on the procedure and it was arranged that I would visit once a week
for 2 hours and work with several students in the lower grades helping
them with their reading.
several visits, I was asked if I would be interested in helping in
a special needs class and was introduced to a student who showed me
a paper mache mountain that he made of Mount 'Everest. He told me
he was really interested in mountain climbing and the equipment that
climbers use. So our trek began.
student is Trekky. He asked me if I could help him find information
for his project. "Do you know anything about Sherpa's?" It just so
happens that I know a man who has climbed Mt. Everest twice and his
name is Pem Sherpa. It did not take us long to find Pem's web site
and his interest heightened. He talked about the equipment that climbers
use to climb the mountain and I asked him if they used trekking poles?
His reply was yes they did. "How about making a walking stick to use
on a climb up Mt. Everest?"
has a lot of energy and I thought that having him involved in making
a walking stick would create some interest in writing a report that
he could share with his class and with his parents. His paper is a
(How To) paper and there is a format that he followed to write it.
At this time, the paper is being written.
stick making process began by stripping a stick of its bark. I did
this at home and cut off the knobs before taking the stick to him.
He needed some tools and supplies, so I prepared a tool kit for him
with files, sandpaper and some directions. His teacher was very supportive
and provided him time during the week to sand and prepare his stick
for finishing. Allowing him the opportunity to work on his own with
minimal supervision was very successful!
were some challenging moments as he sometimes found it difficult to
stay on task. Fortunately, there is classroom next to his regular
classroom that we used and I sometimes had to wait for him to get
his act together. He has a lot of artistic talent and I have tried
to convince him to move forward with his talent. It is revealing to
me that he has not had many successes at school because of negative
behaviors and consequently he self destructs before completing tasks
that would earn a well done from his teacher. Trekky needs one on
one attention and with support and patience, he can achieve success.
is evident to me, that schools need volunteers. Companies need to
provide employees the opportunity to assist in the schools. Retirees
possess talents and skills and should be recruited to work with elementary
children and teenagers. The schools need to reach out to their communities
with a search for volunteers to assist teachers. So many kids need
mentors and support from an adult and this can provide cheerleading
and motivation towards success in school. Classroom teachers are challenged
with so much on day to day basis that it is impossible to deal with
distracting behaviors and meet the needs of the other kids in their
classrooms. We have to find positive niches for the distractors. Successes
do not come easily for these kids, and maybe never, in many cases.
and prescriptions cannot replace the human element and connection
needed for children and teens needing attention. Classroom teachers
need help. Schools need to respond and reach out with programs that
provide volunteers who will give some time and talent in the classroom.
We tend to shelve retirees when they retire and do not provide them
with incentives to work with the Trekky's.
walking stick supports a hiker, and a climber. Trekky has some mountains
to climb as he is young, and searching for recognition. His stick
has provided him some support with a degree of success. Hopefully,
mentoring him, encouraging him and learning to work successfully with
his teacher's, he will begin to appreciate school.
Bryant is a retired educator. He is a member of Rotary and his rotary
club provides the elementary school with some assistance reading to
students. Dick spends time each week as a mentor with this student
helping him develop behaviors for success. Self-esteem and self confidence
have been lacking as he has not had many positive experiences in school.
Creating the opportunity for a hands on experience designing and finishing
a walking stick was a step forward for Trekky. Send me an email with
your comments about this project.