Birds of a feather flock together, and the EAGLEs at North Central are flying in to teach and learn.
North Central School has a mentoring program which stands the test of time. Started in 1999, EAGLE (Encouragement Along with Gained Learning leads to Excellence) pairs up volunteers with elementary students needing a little extra attention in the classroom. This year, many of the volunteers began the week of August 25th and continue as teachers identify students requiring help.
With over 50 volunteers, including junior high and high school students, some school staff, retired teachers, parents, grandparents, and other community members, there is a strong support system which seems to be the biggest reason for the program’s longevity.
“Our North Central Schools are very lucky to have such a wonderful community willing to help our children,” said Angie Lashaway, the Volunteer Coordinator. “Our volunteers are invaluable to us!” she added.
Angie is in charge of the program and feels there is strong support on all sides. Teachers, school staff, volunteers, and students alike give this program a huge thumbs-up. “The teachers are amazing and so willing to accommodate,” she said. One high school teacher even gives up her conference period one day a week.
Julie Taylor, an aid at North Central, said, “The teachers are very supportive and the staff is amazing to work with.”
The school has over 30 junior high and high school students who volunteer during their study hall, give up part of their lunch hour, and now help during the after school program. Volunteers are trained in confidentiality and help in many areas, such as reading, letter sounds, recognizing the alphabet, math, spelling, and more.
The program is designed to fit the volunteers where they are comfortable and link their academic interests with the students’ needs. This helps with the volunteer/student bonding and learning. Those who volunteer are essential to the children’s education. “I wouldn’t be able to function at the capacity required without their help,” said an elementary teacher.
Guidance counselor Diane Veres said, “I feel the interaction with the elementary students helps the older students as much, if not more, than the younger ones. The older students enjoy the time with the younger ones; they are more than willing to spend time, not only helping, but establishing a relationship with someone and being a role model for them!”
Some student tutors are thinking of becoming teachers so being a volunteer helps. One high school volunteer said, “I like being able to help someone learn.”
The students are not the only ones bonding. One adult volunteer said, “I like the interaction with the children. I feel if you can have a positive effect on them at this age it will help them in the future. It’s important to let them know other people care.” The kids truly love the volunteers.
Over the years, teachers have seen an improvement in test scores. They see the need for this kind of program in schools. One teacher said, “The volunteers are there to give additional one on one support that the students are unable to get in the classroom.”
It pays off for everyone. The teachers get much needed help for their students, the student volunteers learn the importance of volunteering, and the children gain confidence in their abilities. Diane said, “The EAGLE Volunteer program is a win-win program for everyone involved! It is a huge asset to our school system!”
One adult volunteer, who has volunteered since the beginning, said, “Over the years I’ve enjoyed watching the children gain confidence and see their progress from the beginning of the school year through the end.” This program has a solid foundation with an immense support team to encourage children to learn, grow, and someday give back.
For questions about the EAGLE Volunteer program, or if interested in tutoring, please contact Angie Lashaway at North Central Schools.