April 7, 2000
A team of ten AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps members have come to work at Smythe Elementary School for eleven weeks. AmeriCorps is a community-based residential volunteer program for young people between the ages of 18 and 24. Before coming to San Ysidro, this team was working at a botanical garden in Silverton, Oregon on a wetlands project.
The corps members at Smythe range from being certified teachers and college graduates to recent high school graduates. They are from all over the country, but one thing the corps members all have in common is a love for the kids and a commitment to their education.
Smythe is sponsoring the AmeriCorps volunteers as a result of a proposal written by the school's Senate Bill 65 Outreach Consultant, Pearl Quinones. Specifically, Ameri-Corps is at Smythe to create a bridge between the school and President Clinton's America Reads Initiative. America Reads is a federal challenge for all students to read well and independently by the third grade.
The emphasis of the volunteers' work is English Language Development, reading comprehension, and tutoring students who have transitioned from bilingual to English-only classrooms. The volunteers work primarily with students in kindergarten through the third grade.
Additionally, the Ameri-Corps volunteers participate in Smythe's afterschool program and lunchtime activities. They work with students in the homework center, tutor them in specific subjects such as reading and math, and are currently organizing a host of other activities, such as dance, touch football, and drama club. Already there has been a significant increase in the number of students staying after school to participate in these programs since the volunteers arrived.
Since the end of February, a beautification project at Smythe has involved the AmeriCorps volunteers - they are creating a reading garden for the students.
The project will entail planting 40 trees (one for each classroom), ten benches, and grass. The reading area will be in the center of this shady spot. In addition, the corps members will work to construct an irrigation system to keep the trees and grass alive and growing in the intense San Ysidro sun.
The students of Smythe, as well as the community are going to benefit greatly from the AmeriCorps volunteers. Gracias!