Would you like to walk into a room and have kids looking at you like you’re the coolest person in the world? No, we’re not talking about being a famous pop singer or an award winning celebrity. This is community service.
I’m talking about community service that involves teaching, whether as an assistant, chaperone, or aide. Many Oceana students do community service on a day to day basis, earning hours at individual places until they have all the hours they need. However, some students have a different setup: They volunteer at the same place on a schedule, and build lasting relationships with the establishment where they volunteer. This is my situation, one that I am incredibly grateful to be in.
What am I doing?
My job is as a teacher’s assistant to ballet classes for 5-7 year olds. I recently passed the milestone of volunteering for 1 year with these students. I can confidently say that in this 1 year, I have learned more about working with children than in my entire life. Although Community Service is meant to be about helping others, I feel like this role has helped me in more ways than I can count. I have learned how to communicate with children, how to handle all sorts of surprising happenings, and how to be responsible, among other things. Doing this community service consistently over a year has taught me what holding a job is like, but with many other added lessons that working at McDonald’s can’t teach you.
What am I learning?
Over time I’ve figured out some major things about teaching children. I had to learn the hard way that 5 year old students react completely differently to 6 year olds, and that students over the age of 7-8 need a different type of teaching as well. My teacher, Maria Spremich, agrees. “In some ways you have to come down to their level, understand what they’re capable of, and most importantly understand that the expectation level is different.” She believes that having this skill is incredibly helpful for people entering the workforce. “When you get out into the world, you’ll be dealing with other people from many different levels.”
What’s the takeaway?
Oceana students do their community service at all sorts of places spanning all sorts of genres, and I have had experience with enough types of volunteering to know the right place for me. I strongly recommend picking up a long term role as a volunteer in order to get service hours. Whichever place a person chooses, I believe they will learn a huge amount in the time they are there.