Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – Learning Is Key

Name: Faida McCain
From: Columbus, Ohio
Grade: 11
School: Columbus Alternative High School
Votes: 0

In my first year of high school, I did not know where I wanted to go or
what I wanted to do. This is common around the age group I was in,
but despite that, I still felt out of place. However, volunteering
through my school’s internship program lifted me up in ways I did
not expect. I have now completed three years of this program, each
year teaching me new and individual things. The year in which I grew
the most was my second year, when I volunteered at my local library’s
Homework Help Center, which focused on helping kids from all grades,
along with their Reading Buddies program, which focused on only
children up to third grade. Through these two programs, I volunteered
for seven hours every week for nine months. As a volunteer, I was
required to do whatever it took to help teach these children what
they needed to learn. If it was about their homework, we would first
look in the notes they had, then in any books we could find on the
topic, and then, if necessary, we could look online for help. In
Reading Buddies, I was to determine the child’s reading level by
quizzing them on vocabulary, and then find a book we could read
together so I could provide any assistance they needed. This program
included kids who had trouble reading at all, whether it was because
they were young, they had a learning disability, or that English was
not their first language. These were the hardest challenges to face
in that I never wanted to make the child feel like they were not
smart because they had not yet learned these skills.

My goal was to allow the kids to never feel that they could not achieve
their goals. Hopefully, this impacted them in a way that lasted
longer than our homework or reading sessions. Hopefully, when these
children got to high school years later, they did not feel as lost as
I did, because they remember facing these challenges and tackling
them, even if it took a bit of help. Seeing the kids I worked with
learn something was the greatest part of my position, because I know
how hard it can be to learn and grow from it. Children truly
understand the importance of this, which was obvious to me after we
tackled a new topic and they were so happy to have grown from the
process. Them being able to channel this happiness and curiosity is,
to me, the very definition of “forward looking.” I have been able
to teach many young children on many different topics, and if just
one child will ever be able to use the skills they have learned
again, all of my work will have paid off. It was an honor to work
with those children and I definitely think it has been the most
deciding factor in my decision to work with kids in whatever career I
finally choose.

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