Philanthropy and Volunteerism for Future Teachers of America
Many college students wish to go into teaching. This is a great and admirable profession and one that will help the next generation. However, it’s difficult for teachers to get their start in the field and to gain experience. One fantastic way for future teachers to both add to their community, as a philanthropist, and gain valuable experience is to join Reading Partners (READ: “Extra Curricular Activities For Your College Resume“).
Reading Partners is a literacy advocacy program throughout the United States and it has a branch right here in Orange County. Volunteers only need to commit one hour a week, however they are welcome to commit more of their time, in order to be a part of the program. The goal of Reading Partners is to strengthen the literacy rate between kindergarten and third graders who attend public schools throughout Orange County. As many already know, any child who is illiterate will likely become an illiterate adult and without the ability to read most adults end up in or stay in poverty.
College students do not need to have any experience to join Reading Partners; the program will train volunteers and place them in classrooms that are in need. Bilingual college students – English/Spanish – are especially needed as many of the students are English language learners.
In 2014, Reading Partners volunteered in 13 schools throughout 7 school districts and over 1,400 students received services or products through Reading Partners One Book as well as the School Supplies Project.
Although it seems that there shouldn’t be any illiteracy in Orange County, CA, many local students are in need (Click: Reading Partners – Children in Orange County). Some parts of the US that we think are thriving have students that continually slip through the cracks and because certain counties in the US receive less attention, the students are less likely to receive help. In addition to general literacy, it’s very important for students in elementary school to speak fluent English. For every year that students do not receive English literacy services, they’re more likely to fall behind or just plain give up (READ: “Getting Your Community Service Credits“). Reading and writing are core subjects for a reason: Everything we look at, from a street sign to ingredients on food packaging to college prep material is written in the English language. Children who can’t read at their grade level become essentially blind. Joining Reading Partners, or any other respected literacy project, is a fabulous way for college students, or people of any age, to both add to the community and gain valuable experience for a future career.
Students who wish to volunteer through Reading Partners should do some research on the website and look for a location near them. It’s important for volunteers to be honest and upfront about the amount of time that they have to offer. College students can become very busy, so if one hour a week is the maximum that they can provide, they should be upfront about this. One hour a week is better than zero hours and is a wonderful gift of time. Additionally, volunteers deserve to be recognized for their work (READ: “New School: Adjusting to Advances in Technology“).
Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
If possible, college students should investigate if their university offers any official recognition that can later be added to a resume or professional network such as LinkedIn. Volunteers are also encouraged to ask Reading Partners, or any volunteer organization that they join, if they can receive a letter of recommendation or reference upon the completion of their volunteer commitment. It’s getting harder to find a full-time job these days, so it’s important to keep resumes up-to-date with any and all community-minded activities.
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