Arnerich Massena’s I AM Learning Partnership is preparing to celebrate some endings and also some exciting new beginnings. Our 2016-2017 school-year programs at Irvington School are concluding as we rapidly approach the last day of school. This year, 28 Arnerich Massena employees volunteered, on company time, to assist more than 100 Irvington students improve their skills in reading, math, science, and homework completion, while also providing mentorship to adolescent girls.
The Before-School Reading and Math Club had the most robust participation of Arnerich Massena volunteers of all the I AM Learning Partnership programs at Irvington School. These employee mentors worked diligently each week to help their students practice and master important basic addition and multiplication fluency and memorization, phonics skills, comprehension, and reading fluency. The objective of this academic mentoring program is to support the classroom curriculum and teaching targets by providing extra practice and guidance in order to meet directed individual learning goals.
Homework Club is another important academic support program offered by the I AM Learning Partnership. The goal of this after-school club is to work with third, fourth, and fifth grade students around organization, comprehension, and completion of their weekly homework assignments. Students who attend Homework Club are provided structured support including learning tools such as dictionaries; calculators; computers/internet; a quiet space; and patient, helpful adults. These students learn the importance of homework for building needed skills, and they take pride in their accomplishments, providing a confident platform to move to the next level in their academic work.
One of our most popular after-school programs is the I AM Learning Partnership’s Math & Science Club. This academic year, 25 third, fourth, and fifth graders attended this weekly program. Math & Science Club provides students the opportunity to cultivate critical math and science skills in an experiential format. The curriculum is designed to support classroom developmental learning objectives, introduce higher-learning concepts, and provide stimulating activities that encourage hands-on exploration. This approach is an optimal way to engage young minds in exploring the notion of how math and science concepts are readily applicable to their own life and environment. Extra practice and experience with math and science not only helps to build skills and confidence, it enhances the student’s connection to the amazing world around them.
Girls’ Club continues to grow exponentially and is one of the I AM Learning Partnership’s most popular programs. Several women employees from Arnerich Massena share their time at the weekly Girls’ Club meetings. They bring their own stories about growing up, attending school, and becoming working women and mothers, serving as positive role models and mentors for these young girls. This year, parents of Girls’ Club members were invited to meet with the coordinators of the club to discuss topics that are important to their families and the development of their daughters. These meetings highlighted the need for curriculum and talking points regarding stranger danger, cyber bullying, puberty, and normal parent/child relationship guidance. This was the first time that the I AM Learning Partnership created an opportunity to hear directly from parents to discuss their goals for their daughters’ participation in this club. For us, it provided a perfect example of the merits of strong parent/teacher communication. When parents are extended the opportunity to collaborate in the learning process, they become more involved, creating stronger bonds with their child and paying closer attention to their education.
Finally, the core essence of our programs and where we direct the majority of our attention and effort is our direct literacy intervention services for small groups of targeted Irvington School students in kindergarten through fourth grade. For four hours each day, Monday through Friday, two I AM Learning Partnership coordinators, Kate DeGraw and Marisa Izzard, conduct direct literacy support for students who are identified by their classroom teachers as not meeting Oregon State benchmarks for literacy but do not qualify for additional support due to lack of funding. This extra dose of support is imperative to assist these students in mastering the critical skills necessary to meet and exceed state literacy benchmarks. This school year, 51 students received direct literacy intervention services through the I AM Learning Partnership and the preliminary results look very promising for a majority of these students to achieve state literacy standards. End-of- year data will be collected and formatted once the school year commences, and results will be shared with the Arnerich Massena firm in the coming months.
Although the school-year clubs are ending, the I AM Learning Partnership is preparing for an important and exciting summer of learning at Irvington School. This summer, the 2017 Early Literacy Community Summer School at Irvington will look a bit different in terms of the make-up of students. Instead of providing services solely to Irvington students, this summer enrichment program will serve students from neighboring Boise-Elliott and Sabin Schools as well. This community summer program will provide direct literacy instruction and related activities to over 30 first and second grade students who are presently not meeting Oregon State Benchmarks in reading and writing. A new partnership formed with Portland-area non-profit Reading Results enables us to extend the reach of our summer programs to the wider Portland Public School community. The I AM Learning Partnership and Reading Results collaboration this summer is intended to broaden the scope of summer student services and to provide academic equity to other community schools who have students in need. This represents a landmark joint effort to help more at-risk Portland Public School students receive free, comprehensive summer academic support and to mitigate the inevitable summer academic slide experienced by so many students. We are so grateful to our partners at Reading Results for providing this incredible opportunity to these students and for the opportunity to work with them.
And with this exciting new beginning comes a bittersweet ending for the I AM Learning Partnership. After nine years and five months, the partnership will say good-bye to assistant coordinator Marisa Izzard as she moves to Maine to live closer to family and embark on the next phase of her life’s journey. Over the years, Marisa has shared her energy, enthusiasm, love of learning, and considerable talents with the partnership. She has been instrumental in providing Arnerich Massena staff with all-important training and volunteer coordination. Her assistance in developing the partnership’s direct literacy services at Irvington by streamlining curriculum and preparing supporting materials for Arnerich Massena employee volunteers in reading and math has been immeasurable. And her stellar work with the students, teachers, and parents at Irvington has positively enriched the lives of all. Marisa’s infectious positive energy and extraordinary commitment to education will be missed by Irvington School staff, students, parents, and the Arnerich Massena firm. We wish Marisa the best of luck as she moves to Maine.
As we say good-bye to Marisa, our sadness is tempered by the excitement of a new beginning, as Marisa’s position will be filled by a former Irvington teacher, Elly Kendig! Elly is a previous fourth grade teacher who is known for her considerable expertise as a reading specialist, her comprehensive work on Irvington’s Equity Team, (bringing a safe, enriching, and fair learning environment to all), and her mentoring work with the Maurice Lucas Foundation. Elly brings a wealth of talent and credentials to benefit our students and community, as well as her passion for learning. She will begin her position with Arnerich Massena’s I AM Learning Partnership on the first day of the 2017 Early Literacy Summer School, June 26. Welcome, Elly!
As we end this academic year and begin our summer adventures in learning, we are most grateful for the honor to serve and be a part of both the Irvington and Arnerich Massena communities. Thanks to all of you for your support. Happy summer!
If you are interested in joining the volunteer efforts of the I AM Learning Partnership, please contact Kate DeGraw.
Tony and Christine Arnerich, Kate DeGraw, and Marisa Izzard
I AM Learning Partnership