In the Portland School District, the regular school year ended in mid-June, and we have some wonderful school-year highlights from the I AM Learning Partnership programs to share. We have summertime news to highlight as well: the I AM Learning Partnership is currently running a free literacy-based community summer school. Year-round academic support keeps this partnership busy!
We’d like to begin by saying a very important thank you to the entire Arnerich Massena staff. The I AM Learning Partnership’s success is due to the continued support from these super-dedicated individuals. This school year, many firm employees volunteered in the before-school Reading and Math Tutoring Clubs. This weekly half-hour commitment can make a huge difference in a child’s education, and these tutoring sessions’ positive effects often go far beyond the classroom. This school year, Arnerich Massena employee volunteers guided 24 Irvington students through reading and math exercises and games each morning, providing underperforming students with extra practice time and direct instruction to strengthen these critical skills. In addition to improving students’ academic success, having regular touchpoints for at-risk students is critical for boosting their self-confidence. When a child finishes a before-school tutoring session with an Arnerich Massena employee volunteer, their brain is awake and engaged, their focus is improved, and their self-confidence is freshly elevated. This can be the catalyst for improving a student’s school attendance and tardy problems. Regular tutoring sessions improve language development, problem solving skills, and the development of social skills. Most importantly, students will reflect back on these tutoring sessions and remember the kind, patient, and fun adult community members who came regularly. They will recall caring adults who focused attention on them, who cared about their successes, who modeled the value of education, and who helped instill the joy of learning. This volunteer dedication does reach far past the school building!
This school year boasted a strong contingent of Arnerich Massena employees who volunteered at I Am Learning Partnership’s after-school programs too. Twenty-one second- through fifth-grade Irvington students benefitted from the help provided by Arnerich Massena employee volunteers at Homework Club. This year, Math & Science Club enrolled 30 Irvington students in grades three through five. Employee volunteers were on hand to help students complete science experiments, explore math problems, and even build simple machines such as the catapults. Girls’ Club is the I AM Learning Partnership’s only non-academic program, and many Arnerich Massena female employees volunteer their time here. This club aims to mentor adolescent girls and give them tools to navigate through life situations. Topics covered at Girls’ Club range from friendship problems, communication issues with parents and teachers, questions about puberty, and problems with household stress. Girls this age fear everything from not being ‘popular’ to the fear of strangers. They are sad about homeless people in their city, endangered animals, and the environment. Each year at Girls Club, I AM Learning Partnership teachers, together with the Arnerich Massena employee volunteers, channel the compassion and desire to learn that these young women possess to involve them in meaningful community service projects. This year, Girls’ Club learned about food insecurity in their immediate neighborhood. The girls chose to involve themselves by raising money for The Irvington School Food Pantry. Craft sale funds were donated to the school building’s food pantry and were used to purchase grocery items to go directly to Irvington families in need. In addition, Girls’ Club members, alongside more than a dozen Arnerich Massena employees, volunteered at The Oregon Food Bank packing bulk food for family food boxes. The year of service culminated with a student-led, food-themed community carnival called Soup for the Soul. Girls’ Club members worked with Arnerich Massena employee volunteers for several months planning the carnival and creating food-themed carnival games. The May 18th Soup for the Soul carnival was a success! Participants played games such as “Milk Mustache,” “Apple Toss,” and “Pancake Flip.” Girls’ Club members helped carnival goers make a dry soup mix to take home and offered free samples of soup at the carnival. Portland area Imperfect Produce Company donated vegetables for carnival participants to take home and enjoy with their soup mix. In all, this event raised $2,000 for The Oregon Food Bank.
Sparks are flying at the I AM Learning Partnership’s 2018 Community Summer Literacy School, literally. On Friday, June 29, the I AM Learning Partnership’s teachers led summer school students to Irvington School’s kickball area for an exciting and unique adjective lesson. Armed with buckets of water and barbeque lighters, the teachers lit dozens of sparklers for 34 extremely thrilled students. Later, the adjective lesson will be tied in and expanded upon back in the classroom. Monitoring this large group of first through fourth graders to ensure their safety while they danced among one another carrying sticks on fire was well worth it to witness the joy, excitement, and awe through their eyes! For some, it was their first time holding a sparkler! Learning through exploration, learning by doing, and learning with context and meaning are some of the best ways to reach reluctant or struggling learners. All students need enriching experiences in order to unlock their hidden potential and find what sparks them to learn. In the end, these students came up with the best adjectives to describe their sparkler experience!
This marks the second summer that the I AM Learning Partnership is working and collaborating with Portland area non-profit Reading Results to provide underperforming students in the community free summer school for six weeks. This summer, there are 34 first- through third-grade students who come from Irvington, Sabin, and Boise-Eliot Elementary Schools. All students have been identified by their individual schools as not performing at Oregon State benchmarks for literacy. Working together with Reading Results enables the I AM Learning Partnership to increase the number of enrolled students in the program, as well as the minutes of daily direct literacy instruction for each student. The testing data from last summer demonstrated that with regular attendance in the six-week summer school, most students improved their reading scores and/or remained stable and weren’t affected by the typical ”summer slide.” What is not measurable through testing is the gain in self-confidence these students experience. This shows on the face of each student when practicing reading, exploring words, and trying new language skills ─ ultimately elevating their reading skills! Together, the I AM Learning Partnership and Reading Results are striving to provide a wider range of summer academic quality programs and enriching educational opportunities to a broader community.
The I AM Learning Partnership programs at Irvington School would not be as successful at making a meaningful difference in the community without the dedication and support from the entire Arnerich Massena firm ─ kudos to the good people that have built and sustained Arnerich Massena!
If you are interested in joining the volunteer efforts of the I AM Learning Partnership, please contact Kate DeGraw or Elly Kendig.
Tony and Christine Arnerich, Kate DeGraw, and Elly Kendig I AM Learning Partnership