‘Big kids’ volunteer to assist district’s littlest learners
Nov. 9, 2018 – Edina High School (EHS) students are supporting the Early Learning Center (ELC) in a new way. Juniors and seniors in good academic standing have the opportunity to volunteer at the ELC during their free period on Wednesday or Thursday throughout the semester.
EHS students volunteer for one hour helping with teacher prep, checking in students as they arrive, and reading to kids in reading circles. Tiara Moss-Keys, a junior at EHS, has volunteered with kids since she was in middle school and enjoys helping at the ELC. “I like watching how kids develop their personalities,” Moss-Keys said. “It’s really amazing to see how they make connections with each other.”
The ELC consistently has student volunteers, but this is the second year EHS has allowed students to volunteer during school hours. “Our ELC Coordinator Leah Byrd brought the idea to our attention,” said Carynn Roehrick, Community Resources and Volunteer Program Manager. “She had seen this model work at other facilities and wanted to incorporate it here.” Jenn Carter, assistant principal at EHS and Roehrick, organized the program and made the idea a reality.
Since of the start of the program last year, the amount of high school volunteers has doubled. Staff and children at the ELC appreciate the volunteers. “From a logistical standpoint, it’s always nice to have extra hands when working with little kids. For ELC students, they get an opportunity to see ‘big kids’ caring about them and wanting to help them learn,” said Byrd.
The volunteer program has given EHS students insight into a career in teaching and has made a lasting impact on them. “Even if this isn’t the field I end up working in professionally, I want to always find a way to work with kids,” said Moss-Keys.