Updated: Apr 1, 2022
The past 10 weeks have been the toughest to date as an educator and program leader, and I am not alone in experiencing such hardship. Our community partners have reported signs of extreme stress and fatigue among participating youth, necessitating a full-team approach for effectively identifying and addressing those in need of intensive support. UCSB students and faculty have had to work through changes in guidelines for course activities, switching from zoom to in person and back again. Our undergraduate and graduate students have been facing a housing crisis that I have not seen before, and war happening in the Ukraine has both shocked and further shaken our sense of safety. With so much instability surrounding us, community connections matter even more.
Every story in this issue is an act of community love. And each act fosters both healing and a sense of belonging, which makes our community stronger. I hope that this newsletter issue brings you joy and hope for a brighter, more peaceful future. -Dr. D
Highlighting Communities Bases Literacies (CBL) Projects
The CBL Social Media & Newsletter group sent out correspondents to collaborate with CBL project leaders in reporting on their programs. Here are some highlights:
The project SEED is an environmentally focused group which teaches kids about pollinators by engaging them in a group project to create standing planter boxes that will attract pollinators.
The kids make and use wooden pallets (above left) to build the planter boxes which will then hold up ceramic (above right) pots where they can then plant flowers and other plants that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The SEED project is a hands-on educational project that emphasizes teaching kids about how important pollinators are to our environment and how as a society it is pivotal that we work to protect them. The UCSB students involved in SEED worked mostly on the construction of the palettes with the students, teaching them how to use power tools like sanders, drills, and saws, as well as do tasks such as planting and painting the planter boxes. This project helped UCSB students gain experience in implementing a curriculum that integrates engineering solutions and sustainability concepts while providing a gateway for students to engage with their community.
Although this quarter had a rocky start, we were thrilled to get to continue our in person activities at the Goleta Boys & Girls Club! LEAFY, our interactive environmental literacies program, continues to be a big hit amongst members of the club. Through LEAFY, members get to learn about gardening, plants, and the environment. This fun hands-on experience helps the participants learn how to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle. During the first week students picked out weeds and got the garden beds prepped for planting. In the following weeks they got to plant a variety of produce including jalapenos, strawberries and tomatoes. Undergraduate facilitators get involved by taking on leadership roles and assisting in organizing and executing these different activities. Bringing in undergraduate peers to volunteer has really helped the youth of the Boys & Girls Club connect with UCSB and its surrounding communities. We can’t wait to see what else LEAFY has in store for spring quarter!
McEnroe Reading Clinic
Members of the Reading Clinic recognize children as co-learners. The goal is to help them find joy in literacy by creating an enjoyable environment that makes reading fun! We work with students in grades 1st through 8th to strengthen their reading and comprehension skills. We do this by creating activities that relate to the students’ interests and help them learn like, using online games (eg. Scribblio, Kahoot) to test and increase their skills in understanding words and concepts. Students also pick what they would like to read or learn about for the day.
The Library Reorganization Program is an ongoing idea for the past five year that has finally come into fruition. We are optimistic that we will be finished by the end of March 2022.
The purpose is to create a library catalog for students that will enable them to find books they like through the use of keywords on a library system called “Airtable.” A special thanks to everyone who makes the Reading Clinic a reality. Thank you for all your hard work. You are greatly appreciated!
The Goleta Boys and Girls Club offers many helpful resources, such as Homework Help. Here children have the opportunity to work alongside tutors and get the aid they need. They are also able to form a connection amongst one another and with the volunteers themselves. The program’s biggest goal is to provide children with a space in which they feel comfortable learning and getting help when working on assignments.
Some of this year's winter volunteers shared great memories with the students and had nothing but positive things to say about the program. One of the volunteers, Emily Perez said, “Students benefited from having an environment where they could be heard and have a connection with someone other than family members or educators.” She stated that the support the students received from fellow volunteers was different, which allowed for the students to really feel heard. Another Student Volunteer said, “Having this program after school allowed the children to not only do their homework but interact with each other and adults in a place that fosters their growth.”
One of the many great advantages is that the program allows for the growth of children outside of school and their home lives. They are able to learn among each other and with one another. Another important part of the program is that it makes an impact on the volunteers themselves. “ I feel as though the students have had a larger impact on me than I have had on them. They have taught me more about what it means to be in a teacher role than any class I’ve ever taken,” a volunteer said. Undergraduate college students re-learned what it was like to be in the classroom at a younger age. Overall the program is a successful one that creates an environment where volunteers and students learn from one another.