National Service Works for Education

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National Service Works for Education

[Music] Well, I just liked
the first day, because like
everybody was like having a
barbecue outside and there was
like free food, and then that’s
when I met AmeriCorps, and they actually called
my mom that same day. Like two hours later
they’re like he’s ditching. My mom called me and said,
what are you doing? And I was like, oh,
I’m over here at school. She’s like, no,
you’re not, they called me. The Urban Education
Service Corps, which is the
AmeriCorps Program here in Denver
Public Schools, is about ten different school
sites around the district. All of them
very high needs. We work on student
attendance. Our members also work
with parent engagement. Dago was paired with
one of our members Lily. Lily was persistent. She met his parents. She met his sister. She met
friends of his and developed
a relationship. I think he was probably
really shocked the first day she knocked
on his door. I was surprised and I
saw them and I was like, oh, it’s them. And I think that
might have been maybe a
breakthrough moment when he realized
that I actually took time out of my
workday to get in my car, drive to his house
and knock on his door and bring him
back to school. And it was after that,
that he came in. He was like,
I understand what you’re
trying to do now and I just want
to say thank you. He has a passion
for fixing cars and I really encouraged
him to pursue that passion, but I also emphasized the importance of him
finishing high school. I passed every
class this year, that’s why I’m only like four
months away from graduating. By the end of
the school year Dago had 100%
daily attendance. Just like
we’re teaching why attendance is so
critical in the schools, being able to show up
everyday for a job is a critical
life skill that some of these kids
haven’t gotten before, and that’s a real
wake up for them. This is how you
show up for a job. This is how you
come prepared. This is what it means
to be professional. Those are things that
a lot of our kids have never had exposure
to in the past. He’s smart.
He’s charismatic. He was just kind
of misdirected. Someone needed
to pull him out and take the time
to get to know him and make him
realize his potential. The extra attention that our
Senior Corps volunteers are offering these kids makes a
huge difference academically. We are at Public Elementary
School in North Denver. The demographic is
about 85%, 90% Hispanic. We have about 72% or 73%
English language learners and over 90% free
and reduced lunch. So this is rather a economically
challenged community that we serve here. Jonah is nine years old. He is the funniest
little guy ever. He has such a great
sense of humor. Jonah just had a
difficult birth and basically was
out of oxygen for over 17 minutes, so we new right away that he was going to
have a challenging life. I think with Jonah, the impact I’ve seen on
him with Senior Corps is that he just feels more
involved in the curriculum. I know in one of his sessions
with the psychologist, one of his
things was, he didn’t feel like he got
the attention he needed and he does
with her. He thrives during that
45 minutes to an hour that he works with
Grandma Emma. Senior Corps has given
me an opportunity to give them the
help that they need and I enjoy working
with the kids and trying to
help them learn that they can do
a lot of things that a lot of people
think they can’t do. We have a state that cares a great deal
about its children. We have political
leadership, we have business
leadership, we have nonprofit
leadership, but the one thing that
has brought us altogether is the power of
what service can do, and I have
to tell you that it’s
National Service that has really
lit the fire of what’s
happening here. And that’s where
AmeriCorps comes in. They bring a
commitment. They bring a commitment to
working with communities and that’s
what we need. Teach for America,
City Year, the Literacy Act,
the volunteers, we’re one of the few places
in the United States that has seen
demonstrative growth. That has all happened as we brought on more
of the corporations, services and grants
and opportunities. So what I
can tell you is it’s having
an impact. I don’t ever
want to experiment what it would look
like without that. I think FM Day
would be lost without our
Foster Grandparents. My brother
and a lot of kids that you see like
during school, that you see walking
around and everything, and maybe if
they had like… they had the help and like support
of their parents, like they could actually
like be someone like or actually
be in school. That’s like what I think
the biggest problem is here. Like if they had more
people in like one-on-one that actually did home
visits and all that. Because I know a lot of
kids have strict parents, but since their parents
don’t know what’s going on, they just kind of
get away with it. Our parents and AmeriCorps
can help us fix our own self and that’s up to us if we want to like
take it or leave it. I took it. [Music]

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