Student Counts Community Involvement Class As A Blessing

Every day I take a walk. I feel appreciative that I can. I have the opportunity to think about my day or future endeavors. Sometimes I think about the homework that I have. It’s not the walk though, that I feel blessed to have.

It’s the opportunity to walk over to Chinook Elementary school every day to take part in a class called Community Involvement that I count as a blessing.

Community Involvement is a hands-on class where Dimond students have the unique opportunity to work with students and teachers alike. From grading homework to reading a book with a student, the high schoolers get to see what the real world of teaching really looks like.

This  class  exposes future teachers to the classrooms where they may teach one day.

“It’s important for you guys [high school students] to see all the different pieces that go into teaching.” said Brooke Guske, a second grade teacher at Chinook.

“Teaching isn’t just working with the kids. There’s the background work that goes into it, and the little pieces,” Guske said.

The Community Involvement class has been ongoing for over 10 years.

At first it started as a gifted mentorship program known as “The Mockingbird Mentorship Program.” It soon evolved into a class that is highly in demand.

The class is popular among students.

“The program has 11 students per hour that go over there. [The class] fills up regularly,” said Pete Mandel, the Dimond counselor who is in charge of the program.

There are about 50 to 60 kids in the program.

“[The program] is a huge help to teachers over at Chinook. Having that help in the classroom enables them to do a lot more with their day. Some of those kids need one-on-one help that a teacher can’t always give,” Mandel said.

How do teachers at Chinook feel about the program?

“[Teachers] want a Dimond tutor every period. The tutors are helpful, respectful and teachers have that help that they need to get things done,” said Anita Stevens, Chinook Elementary’s Principal.

Not every teacher gets a Dimond tutor, and those that do usually have at least 45 minutes with them. In that time, teachers have students do various things like grade, read with kids and, of course, stand at the copy machine, which usually tends to break down.

One major factor I have noticed doing this program is the importance of knowing the kids you work with.

Every child in the classroom has a background. Some come from healthy, happy, stable homes. Many, though, tend to come from broken homes.

“There was a student who ended up being taken away by OCS. It was a kid that came in really rough and I was able to build a relationship with. It broke my heart that it was happening. Thats what ended up causing me to go into education. I wanted to help kids,” Guske told me.

School can be a safe place for kids who don’t have a safe place. Building a relationship with a student can make a huge difference in the classroom.

“Some of my kids come from really rough backgrounds. For them having someone who is older that comes in and gives them support helps fill a gap and develop relationships in a positive way,” Guske said.

This type of program has produced great fruit.

Quite a few students who took this class have become teachers.

Guske herself took part of a program just like Community Involvement when she was in high school. It is how she got started.

Stevens even interviewed a former Dimond student to be a teacher at Chinook.

As someone who is considering working as a teacher, I am glad that there is a class like Community Involvement.

I have found myself falling in love with the career.

The grading can be hard, but watching the kids light up when you enter the room or when you give them a compliment makes you forget how hard the grading was.

I feel grateful for this type of training. Everyday we are trained how to teach, how to grade and more importantly how to create a safe and nurturing environment for children.