REACH stands for Raising Education Attainment Challenge. The REACH Program at the Cornell Public Service Center is a student initiative consisting of Team Leaders, America Reads/Counts Challenge tutors (ARCC), and volunteer tutors committed to supporting community organizations and schools serving children’s academic and social needs.

The purpose of the program is to recruit and mobilize a diverse, talented group of tutors so that they may have the necessary resources, peer support, and leadership to assist in the enhancement of academic achievement of children and youth in grades pre-K-12th.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just another awesome evening at LRC - Sharon Gerbode (Lansing)

So the other night the young women at Lansing Residential Center were pumped -- they were practicing dance moves for some kind of talent show at the facility. They were blasting tunes and bouncing around, and I was kind of timidly watching and trying to learn from them. Then one of the other REACH tutors taught me some Step moves and everyone was laughing and cheering us on as she and one of the residents and I were performing what I'd just learned.

Then after all that madness, I found out that the resident I've been working with for the past 6 months would be leaving LRC the next morning to head back home. She was so excited to be moving on, and I didn't think there was much of a chance she would want to sit down and do tutoring... but amazingly she wanted to do some algebra! When it was time to go, she said she wished she could take me with her back home to keep helping her out with math. I'm going to miss her.

Life at GIAC - Alicia Wiprovnick (GIAC Youth)

Hi, out there to those reading this! I’m Alicia and I’m a team leader at GIAC. I’ve been working at GIAC for about a year and a half now, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all of the kids there. It’s really rewarding to make relationships with some of the kids; I feel like I’m making an impact on their lives when they look forward to seeing me. There are kids that comment when I’ve been gone for a while, and kids that specifically ask for my help on their homework.

My favorite part about working at GIAC is the little unexpected things that come up that just brighten my day. This can range from noticing someone is improving on their reading skills or becoming more motivated to do their school work, to having a political discussion with a 5th grader. That’s right I had a political discussion with a 5th grader when it was around election time. He must have very liberal parents; he believes that Obama is going to fix every problem ever and that the world would be better if money didn’t exist. He also told me about this website that makes fun of Sarah Palin that he likes to frequent. While he doesn’t quite grasp the intricacies of the political world, it’s really great that he is taking an interest in politics, something that I was definitely not interested in when I was 10 years old.

So basically my point is, working at GIAC is great and the kids are definitely a refreshing change from Cornell Campus life.

Peace out,

On Releasing My Inner Kid... - Melanie Lipton (IACC)

There are so many things I love about REACH. I love getting a break from craziness of campus, my prelims and papers. I love spending time with the kids at my site, but most of all, I love that my time spent at IACC helps me release my inner kid. A few weeks ago, my inner kid was brought back to the days of elementary school and show and tell.

Over Winter Break, I took a 10 day trip to Israel through a program called Birthright. I had told Lyn, my site supervisor about it before I left for the semester and she was so excited for me. When I called her in January to discuss my new schedule and when I would start, she asked me how the trip went and if I had any pictures to show her and the kids. When I went in to the site later that week, I brought the scrapbook I had made. My site supervisor was so impressed by the book that she insisted I do a show and tell with the kids. They all sat around the carpet in a circle as I brought out my book. Most of them listened intently as I flipped through the pages and explained the pictures from my amazing journey.

What was really special for me was being able to share some of my life with these kids that I have come to know so well. I see them on a weekly basis, I’ve met their parents and their siblings, but they have never really seen my life outside of REACH and Ithaca. This little show and tell allowed the kids to see part of my life, to see me as more than just someone who helps them with their homework and plays in the gym with them. For me, that is what REACH is all about, not just helping these kids academically, but letting them into your lives like friends. I’m glad I got to get in touch with my childhood self and bring in a little show and tell.

Reflections of a REACH veteran - Svante Myrick (Paul Schreurs)

I am now in my 8th semester as a REACH tutor and mentor.  With only two months left I find myself reflecting on what my experience has meant for my academic career, my personal life, and my future goals.

            Through REACH I have had an opportunity to pursue interests I never thought possible.  It was thanks to REACH that I am now the youngest member of Ithaca’s City Council.  As amazing as these opportunities have been, REACH remains the most important aspect of my academic career.

When I began at the Paul Schreur’s Program as a freshman I simply wanted to get off campus for a couple hours a week, earn some money, and hang out with kids.  I came to campus to study journalism and pursue a career in broadcasting.  Now, at the end of my undergraduate journey, I am excited to pursue a career in education policy.  Learning about the problems of the achievement gap while simultaneously seeing first hand the stories and lives of those directly affected by inequities in our system lit a fire in me.  I am now motivated to work actively towards a solution.  I know that education is at the core of success, not just for individuals, but for our entire country.  Without a sound and equitable educational policy we will all fail.  

            My service-learning experience has shown me my own personal power.  I may not have the resources, the knowledge or the skill to change the world.  But I have discovered that by showing up every week and giving what I do have to give, I can make a change for these youth and for this community.