AmeriCorps helps out in classrooms

They are eager, tackling a myriad of classroom challenges that come their way, meeting one- on- one with students and developing community internship programs for area students.

Whether its helping 8th-graders with culminating projects, teaching Spanish to intermediate students or developing training programs for South Whidbey students, the latest crop of AmeriCorps volunteers are on go.

Langley Middle School teacher Susie Richards coordinates this year’s six volunteers.

“They are everywhere in our school district. Just looking at their daily schedule makes me tired,” Richards said.

The “they” are the three full-time volunteers, Brittany Gallagher, Jillian Lao and Laura Pedlar, who receive a monthly stipend of $850.

Money wasn’t the attraction for these three. All are college graduates and interested in pursuing careers in education.

Richards said on a typical day, they are in the community working with high school students on a service-learning project with the Maxwelton Salmon Adventure, helping tutor Spanish speaking students, offering math and English support in classrooms at the high school, running clubs at the middle school and assisting with Adventure Education.

Volunteer Laura Pedlar says for one of her first projects she put together some clubs at the middle school, Cooking Club and Chess Club.

For the culminating project in late spring they will be putting together a cookbook from their recipes of this past year that they will sell, the proceeds going back to LMS.

“The only reason that I have been able to do this particular club is because of our great EAP AmeriCorp member Suzie Cruchon who has a love for cooking and a skill for teaching students how to cook,” Pedlar said.

For sixth-graders a Chess Club meets once to twice a week with a tournament planned for the week of Dec. 13 through 17.

Another AmeriCorps volunteer, Brittany Gallagher traveled from Wisconsin to participate on South Whidbey.

Gallagher said she was attracted to the area because she got a sense of the community and school district from Susie Richards.

“After meeting her, I knew South Whidbey was a place I wanted to work, “Gallagher said.

Three other volunteers are seniors at South Whidbey High School and are part of the Educational Achievement Program or EAP AmeriCorps volunteers. The three are Dane Guetlin, Kelly Shorr and Suzie Cruchon.

They are spending their volunteer hours with middle school students on wide range of programs that include mentoring, support for Spanish-speaking students and assisting in the LMS cooking and chess clubs. They will receive $1,000 toward their education.

“All of these young people are doing incredible work for our district,” Richards said.

Richards said that their contribution to our schools, students and community has been wide ranging and has already had an incredibly powerful impact.

“They all have a passion for service and making a difference, and they bring that energy with them to everything that they are involved with,” Richards said.

AmeriCorps was funded in 1993 by President Clinton and attracts volunteers of all ages to work in communities all over the nation. On South Whidbey, the three full-time members receive a stipend for the work they do, as well as financial assistance for further education.

AmeriCorps members previously served on South Whidbey from 1986 to 1993. During its seven years here, the team built trails on publicly owned acreage behind South Whidbey Intermediate School, at Possession Point and in the Lone Lake area. Team members also worked in classrooms in all South Whidbey schools, teaching environmental science, chaperoning class trips and promoting recycling programs. The teams have also done fee-for service projects including work on baseball fields at South Whidbey Community Park,

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