By William Ross, corps member serving at Bakersville Elementary School (home of the Bulldogs)
A typical Thursday begins at the parking lot where the Bakersville team circles-up for a readiness check. The team, led by Harvey, stands in a circle to make sure they have all the parts of the uniform with spirit, and then piles into the team van. Arriving at school, everybody is committed 100%.
The day starts off with a “ROAR!” A group of 15 students gets to come to school early for Chorus Club with Mr. William and Mr. Ian. The students choose the music and Ian and William collaborate on the lesson. Right now they’re rehearsing “Roar!” by Katy Perry. The group meets 7:45-8:10am every Thursday.
Erika, the behavior point for the team, preps for the day by meeting with Mrs. Chub, her partner teacher in 3rd grade, then joins the daily gate greeting outside at 8:10am. As students file in, she checks homework, and makes a homework announcement in conjunction with special announcements such as students with perfect attendance for the week. Of the students on her attendance focus list, only one still needs improvement. She also promotes student’s organizational skills with the “clean desk initiative,” awarding stickers for success.
Jenny, the team math point who serves in a 3rd grade classroom, has specials first thing in the morning. She motivates students to be on time by conducting rocket math (one minute timed progressive math sheets used school wide) from 8:25-8:30am for the students who get to class on time.
Ian, the team after school point, had a major success with a student’s attendance. At the beginning of the year this student was often absent or late, but recently has almost completely rectified this issue and has even had a week of perfect punctuality and attendance. As a reward, Ian and the student played a round of basketball during the end of the day. “A big moment for him,” Ian says. Even though this student may still slip now and then, “he now knows he can do it.”
With school underway, Melissa, the team literacy point who serves in 4th grade, leads afternoon reading groups. In the classroom she leads a class wide behavior initiative called “Warm Fuzzies” (pompom balls). The students sit in small groups around circular tables and need to collect 12 fuzzies in their table’s bucket to earn 20 minutes of extra free time, creating a “behavior team of the whole table.” One student really struggles with behavior. This student’s table won the prize 2 times. “Free time is really important for this student, they worked really hard!” Melissa says.
At lunch Erika talks with a student who is struggling with behavior about ways to improve. The student started off the year with “girl drama, disrupting the whole class. Now she’s super helpful in the classroom, kindly redirecting the misbehavior of her peers.”
Seun, the attendance point in 5th grade, also talks about motivation. Working with shy kids, she encourages them to talk, and smiling says “That was a good insight.” She notices students who are struggling, and taking them aside, she shows them another perspective, and they understand. “I see a lot of improvement in my students.”
Melissa explains how every day she tells the students “I believe in you.” “Sometimes they’re in a funk, saying ‘I can’t do this.’ I tell them- ‘Yes it may be hard, but you’ll get this if you try.’” One of Melissa’s students was very disrespectful at the beginning of the year. “Now she tells me she wishes I was here on Friday,” Melissa reports.
After the school day wraps up and the team departs their individual classrooms, it is time for afterschool programming where the teammates assist with programs that are already in place in the school, and give continued support to the school’s student body. Around 5:15pm, the team sits down to debrief their day as the last students are being picked up. The team finishes out their day with a spirit break and climbs back into the team van with another successful day at Bakersville Elementary School under their belts.