Today is one of those days that you didn’t have much of a plan for; I didn’t expect much from it and, honestly, woke up already looking forward to going back to sleep tonight. But, I have been pleasantly surprised with how my day has turned out so far. Which makes me extremely happy.
I volunteered at a local Newport News elementary school this morning. I am required to earn volunteer hours because I am part of the President’s Leadership Program, but I honestly think this is something I would be doing regardless of the credit received. When I visit the elementary school, I get to spend a couple of hours in first-grade classrooms assisting children during their reading time. This means I’ll read books to children, get read to, play phonics board games and practice my “teacher handwriting” on flashcards (I can’t wait until I have a classroom of my own!). While it is definitely a struggle to get out of bed Thursday mornings, especially when I know I don’t have class until 4:30, volunteering at my local elementary school always brings me joy. I chose the service track of Hampton Roads Public Schools for my community engagement, almost solely because I plan on teaching after graduation. I figured it would do me some good to get “real-world experience” in the school systems; I wanted to make sure I even liked being a part of the classroom.
And, I do. I love it. The children I work with constantly surprise me with their insight, their determination, and their passion for life. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of volunteering, but the things I have learned and the memories I have made are beyond numerous. It makes my day to walk into a classroom and have a first grader run up to me, yelling, “Miss Laura, can I read my book to you?” The answer is always yes. In fact, sometimes, I would rather stay at their school and learn with them all day than return to CNU for my own classes. (Don’t worry, mom and dad. I fully intend to finish a degree here.)
It amazes me that the children are so willing to share their lives with me. We’ve had touching moments discussing the recent death of a family pet, and we’ve had lighthearted debates over just what flavor of ice cream is best. Of course, the kids are fascinated with my personal life, as well. From asking if I’m a mom and if I have a boyfriend, to trying to understand how I can live at school (they love the idea of having roommates), they keep me smiling.
All this to say, if you get the chance to volunteer, and you love working with children, you should definitely consider helping out in the school system. I can guarantee you there are dozens of compassionate, quirky, super endearing kids waiting to become your best friend.