Since November 2015, SAR developed a partnership with S.H.I.N.E. (Students of Hostos are Inspired and Nurtured to Excellence), an after-school program serving students in grades K-6 at the Eugenio Maria de Hostos MicroSociety School (Hostos). SHINE is located in a socio-economically disadvantaged section of Yonkers where a majority of students come from homes where English is not the primary language spoken. SHINE provides students with homework assistance, tutoring and mentoring, arts instruction and provides opportunities for free play. Because of SHINE’s proximity to SAR High School, there are increased opportunities for group volunteering and individual volunteering.
Seven advisory groups volunteered with SHINE during the 2016-2017 school year. Valerie Cursio considers these volunteers “exceptional role models” for the elementary school students by “demonstrating positive energy, enthusiasm, flexibility, patience and the importance of serving community.” Valerie recollected that there were a couple of Wednesdays where the first graders would not have finished their 10 sentences if it hadn’t been for the volunteers.
Based on their volunteering experiences with the SHINE after-school program, Abby Fried, Rebecca Hyman and Alissa Mackey contacted the principal of Hostos to complete their senior exploration internship there, supporting teachers in kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms.
Elisa Ospina, first grade teacher at Hostos reflected, “Alissa was a great asset to our classroom. Her willingness to conduct book clubs and teach PowerPoint to the president and vice-president of our student government was greatly appreciated.” Mercy Noriega, kindergarten teacher at the school, emphasized that Rebecca was a “valuable addition to my classroom. My students enjoyed her because she was loving and caring and spent quality time with them. She assisted all students that needed help.”
The SAR students expressed how much they valued their experiences interacting with the students and supporting the teachers at Hostos, while also reflecting on money and limited funding. Indeed, a core component of the Hostos curriculum involves microlending, but the school itself is strapped for funds.
The SAR chesed program has raised money to donate $2,000 to help address some of these goals. When asked how the money would best serve the Hostos community, Abby suggested that the funds be allocated toward recreational activities in the after-school program, while Rebecca hopes that some of the money will be used to buy basic supplies for each student. Her dream is that every student will have a full pencil case!
By Abby Fried, Rebecca Hyman and Alissa Mackey