Unique Perspectives: A Teacher Reflects on the Positive Impact of TLC

Laurie Mittermiller, our Teen Literacy Corps (TLC) Coordinator, recently wrote about the impact TLC has on both elementary and high school student participants. When Laurie and her colleague Josue visited Deborah Chapman's class at Roosevelt High School, they were greatly impressed with her inspirational and inclusive teaching style. Deborah's students are participants of the TLC program and meet regularly with elementary students at First Street Elementary School in Boyle Heights. Read on for this extraordinary educator's point of view on the TLC program!

What kind of experience do your high school students previously have with community service (that you know of)?

I know my students sometimes provide community service through their church participation, but I do not have many kids who are actively involved in their churches.

For their senior year, community service is required; however, many of my kids don't make it to their senior year (financial AND academic reasons).

What kind of impact do you see TLC having on your high school students?

My students love it so far. I think it makes them feel important. They've already noticed little things about their partners and they are charmed/ concerned.

How do you think the high school students' perspective on TLC changes over the course of the year?

Last year I had students who were so dedicated that by the end of the year, one of them insisted on using her personal money to buy little workbooks for all of the kids in the classroom.

Also, I ran into one of my students, Ronnie, at an adult school class. He asked me about his little partner. I know he got a lot of affirmation from his experience with Joshua (he remembered his partner's name). Ronnie wasn't exactly the best student and it made him feel great to be looked up to by this adorable little six year old (the first graders would all jump up and yell "Yay" as soon as we walked in).

What kind of impact do you see TLC having on the elementary class?

I know that the elementary class students hugged some of my students good-bye when it was their last day. Their teacher told me that they really enjoyed having the "big kids" over.

As a teacher, what motivated you to get involved with TLC?

I had a tough group of students who had not been very successful in their previous English classes. I wanted to do something that would bolster their confidence a bit. I think experiential learning is still so important.

Is there a special, funny, or poignant story about your students and TLC that you would like to share?

Both my teacher partner and I gave each other notes on the kids that were to be involved. My students "selected" the kids they worked with by the notes that Ms. Rodriguez gave me on her Pre-K [students]. Some of my students asked for the ones who were Spanish learners, while some asked for the "super energetic" kids, etc. I think they saw a bit of themselves in their charges and wanted to help.

My students want to do well. And I have to say, one of my most recalcitrant students is one of my best tutors. He knows how to get the kids to smile. I told him he should consider a career where he works with young people. For someone who is struggling with academics, this positive experience could make the difference. I told him he would not be able to go to the next tutoring session if he didn't turn in his essay. He turned it in! Miracle!

Finally, what children's books are your high school students' favorites to bring to their elementary partners?

Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Tags: KOREH L.A. News, Volunteer Spotlight

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