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Washington Voices

Vocal Point: Time, money can help students find success

Thu., Dec. 26, 2013

My wife works as a registered nurse at a Spokane hospital.

She has worked there for 30 years. However, she should have been a school teacher. She volunteers on her day off at Covenant Christian School, a private school sponsored by the Covenant Church in north Spokane where our 8-year-old grandson attends. It is a small school, a bit old-fashioned with a mix of new ideas. It seems to work well.

Recently, a young boy enrolled in the school. He came from a school where he was in a remedial class.

My wife told me that the new boy was behind academically for his age but had been making good progress in this new school. The teacher and volunteers had been working with him because he was distracted easily and needed extra coaching to stay on task. My wife told the little boy that she was proud of him because he was progressing so fast.

The little boy responded as if offering a bit of shocking news, “I was stupid at my other school.”

My wife had to fight back the tears. She told the boy, “You’re smart in this school.”

There are probably thousands of kids with that same self-image. A damn sad thing. But maybe the little boy is recovering.

I wait for my wife to return from her day in the classroom. She always has stories about the little people at the school, and the older ones, too.

At the school, students have their own “offices,” desks with partial dividers. After they receive instruction on a lesson, they work on their own. They are given permission to leave their “office” to receive help from the teachers and assistants like my wife, especially if the students are having trouble mastering the lessons. The students must pass a test on each lesson to move on to higher learning.

The school operates on a slim budget with help from volunteers. But they work academic miracles. It is a pleasure to hear about the successes of children.

My daughter-in-law who has worked with special education kids in the public schools says that teaching these students isn’t difficult, the hard part is giving them confidence and raising their self-esteem. Most are helped by a different way of seeing something. Many of them just need some one-on-one time with an adult. Like every kid.

And that brings me to the point: Volunteers are needed to make this happen.

I have family and friends who teach at public schools in Spokane. They are overloaded with too many students. One-on-one with their students is only a slightly realized dream for them.

Go volunteer at your child or grandchild’s school if you have the time and ability. Free up a teacher to help a kid who needs it.

If you are like me and are not suitable to instruct little people, then give money until it hurts. It’s easier than trying to be smarter than a fifth-grader (I’ve proved it). The public school teachers that I know all spend their own money on classroom supplies. That’s not right.

Spend some money on the kids, and make it a personal gift to the teacher if the administration doesn’t allow gifts to the class. Do it if you can’t volunteer.

More of Darin Krogh’s essays are available at hillyardbay.com.


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