#11: Volunteer in the Charlottesville Community

(Some Clark Elementary students during their annual 5K Run/Walk)

For many students, there are so many opportunities and events on grounds it can be easy to get stuck in the “UVa bubble.” But with the clock ticking, I feel a need to make a greater impact on my surroundings. That’s why, as a second-semester fourth year, I wanted to do something different, something for the Charlottesville community.

Thankfully, there are lots of options for students such as Madison House, Day in the Life, service fraternities like APO (Alpha Phi Omega), and more. With many great organizations you can chose which one fits you best. I chose to volunteer through Day in the Life tutoring program at Clark Elementary because it fits my schedule the best (that is, one hour every week).

Clark Elementary
(Unfortunately, I did not take any picture of me volunteering at Clark because it would have disrupted the class, but here is the front view of the school, located in Belmont)

On my first day, I was excited, but also a little nervous because I did not know what to expect. I arrived at Clark Elementary at 9:30am on Monday morning to help tutor during the school’s Reading and Math block and sat in their lobby while getting a quick orientation. I felt very odd being back in an elementary school, especially knowing that time I would be the “adult.”

After being assigned to Ms. Lawrence’s kindergarten class, I walk through the maze of a hallway and entered the class. There were several small round tables and lots of bright, colorful learning posters and activities. All the children were separated into groups of 4 or 5 and were working in their notebooks on reading poems and writing words.

Sitting in a miniature chair, I helped the students read a poem about Groundhog’s Day and identify certain words, such as “play” “his” “that” and “no.” Before I knew it, the hour was up and it was time for me to head back to grounds to go to my own classes.

My favorite part of the volunteering activity was interacting with the kids. Normally, I slug through Mondays. But because the children I spent time with were all so friendly, energetic, and positive, my Monday wasn’t so bad after all. For the rest of the day, I felt fulfilled and upbeat.