Brian D’Auteuil is the Education Coordinator VISTA serving at Sterling Meadows, a low-income housing complex for agricultural workers and families in Bellingham. Much of his work involves engaging the youth and teens who live in the housing complex to participate in the after-school homework club held in the community center on site. Brian writes about the positive impact that the program has had on current students and alums who return to their community to give back through service-learning opportunities with WWU’s Woodring College of Education.
Sterling Meadows Teen Homework Club has been a key resource for middle school, high school, and college students this academic year. The growth in popularity of this educational program culminated in a wonderful turnout of students of all ages on the Monday of finals week. While the trend in academic improvement is clear from statistics of high school graduation rate and number of students passing classes, these numbers can’t accurately depict the atmosphere in our recent teen homework clubs. Many regulars of this program were toiling away, whether it was taking copious notes on child psychology, memorizing different parts of the cell, or solving complex trigonometric equations. These students sat side by side with Sterling Meadows college students who continue to show the younger generation that academic success takes hard work and determination. Regardless of whether a student was stuck on a 6th grade algebra problem or college level physics for educators, no one hesitated to call over one of our service learners from Western’s Woodring School of Education.
One student had come in to meet with her mentor, a Masters in Teaching student at Western, who helped her study for World History class. Although this class has been a notoriously challenging course, all of our freshmen are currently passing. This result must be partially attributed to our students’ increased willingness to come into Homework Club and ask for help when they feel it is needed. The inclination to reach out for help was also displayed by another student who asked his mentor to change his scheduled weekly meeting in order to get a head start on his final English paper. There was even an eighth grade student in attendance to meet with his new mentor and work on this week’s math homework. As I reflect on Monday’s Homework Club, I find myself so proud of our students for their persistent effort in middle school through college. It is this type of visible effort that brings me hope for the future of not only the older students succeeding in their college courses, but also the younger generation who see the academic bar set at a lofty height and yet aspire to surpass and rise beyond their role models.