For the past two decades ACE has been privileged to share a partnership with AmeriCorps, a program of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. In the last year ACE AmeriCorps members led 8,922 non-AmeriCorps member volunteers in AmeriCorps service activities, served 13,576 disadvantaged children and youth, and engaged 3,337 disadvantaged children and youth as volunteers. AmeriCorps works! Three ACE AmeriCorps members share their stories here.
Cathleen Santos de la Rosa, who teaches at Saint Mary School in Los Angeles, writes of students for whom English is a new language, and the strides they've taken toward fluency this year. "Through a lot of work on phonics and fluency practice, aggregately these students have improved by 17 words per minute in fluency, by 8% in accuracy, and a full level in reading comprehension." The process, Cathleen reports, has shown her students that the hours of in-class and after-school tutoring, "all of these little choices to better themselves," have paid off.
Derrick Toups, a third grade teacher at St. Robert Catholic in Sacramento, CA, reports the impact a video of the Yellow Boat Project in the Philippines had on his students. "After witnessing kids of their own age swim to school and trudge through mud to get home," Derrick writes, "my class instantly began dialogue about what they could do to help their fellow students...They began planning a car wash: setting prices, discussing potential locations, and slogans. I stepped aside and watched as they worked together to do what they could to bring a small bit of justice to those less fortunate than them...It is truly inspiring to watch the impact of 'students helping students' unfold."
Another teacher in Sacramento, Brian Argus of Saint Patrick Academy, relays this hilarious example of the difference a 15 minute lesson can make in the lives of students. "It was the day before Thanksgiving break," he begins, the last period of the day before an all-school pep rally and a week long holiday. Brian had 15 minutes to teach a Life Science lesson on diffusion to 37 antsy seventh graders.
"The demonstration," Brian explains, "was in two parts: 1) Drop food coloring into beakers at each table and have students time how long it takes to hit the bottom as well as equally spread, and 2) Burn a bag of popcorn in the microwave unbeknownst to the students until those in the front of the room smell it and those in the back say 'What burning popcorn?'"
Initially, all went as planned. As Brian completed part 1, a student exclaimed, "Mr. Argus something is burning!" and, as if on cue, a student in the back said, "I don't smell anything..." Brian continued, "This was exactly what I wanted them to see. But suddenly their cries of something burning got worse, until a student finally threw in the word smoke. I glanced towards the microwave behind me to discover smoke billowing out through crevices I didn't know existed. Fortunately, we were able to open the windows and doors to prevent a fire alarm...Unfortunately, my classroom smelled like popcorn for at least 3 weeks afterwards.
"But there is a silver lining to this story: it set the groundwork for what became probably my best week of life science lessons after the students returned. They will never forget the day Mr. Argus made what we call 'The Story of the Burnt Popcorn,' nor will they ever forget the concept of diffusion."