Jumpstart Organization, a national program with chapters on college campuses, sends corp members to local schools to aid inner-city students.
Every child deserves the chance to achieve, thrive and succeed. Unfortunately, studies show that poverty tends to limit educational opportunities that are available to children. Jumpstart Organization specifically concentrates on children in low-income neighborhoods to help them develop the language, literacy and social skills they need to be successful in school.
Kelly Glasenapp, site manager for Jumpstart Philadelphia at Main Campus, works alongside volunteer coordinator Nicole Kelly, a senior psychology major.
“There are 50 corps members, all of which are Temple students of all majors,” Glasenapp said. “They are broken into six teams and work at five preschools, all within walking distance of campus. They have individual planning in which they prepare their own sessions, then work twice a week running the sessions with the children.”
In addition, there is also classroom assistance time that occurs during the school day, during which the corps members go into the classrooms and assist the teacher with whatever they need, then receive more than 50 hours of training.
There are five preschools that the corps members work at: Duckrey Elementary Headstart, Gesu School, McKinley Elementary Headstart, Ferguson Elementary Headstart and Dunbar Elementary. Members work with the same children at the same schools for the entire school year. This schedule benefits the children because they get accustomed to the people who come in and work with them. The members work with two to three children each so they can give their undivided attention to them and give them the jumpstart they need in order to be successful in kindergarten.
There are four main parts to the sessions that the corps members work on with the children: Reading time, during which the members read aloud to the children to learn literacy skills, circle time, when the students and members come together to sing songs and play games, which builds a sense of community within the group, “Let’s Find Out About It,” in which the team leaders facilitate a mini-lesson focused on a weekly theme and lastly, and center time, the longest part of the session, during which the members and children engage in conversational interaction via learning stations.
Jumpstart not only works in the five schools, but also engage themselves in community service projects around the area. They volunteer for Rubeye’s Kids, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Jumpstart for a Day, which is held on Main Campus in April.
“All of the students in all the schools that we serve are invited [to JFAD],” Kelly said. “It’s a literacy festival, education based. Community service is a great way for people to give back to the community and causes that may not have the funds or right people to get the attention that they need. At MLK day, we got to transform an entire high school.”
“Everyone who was there were there just to help out. The big thing is, when people give their own time to go out and help other people, it’s huge,” Kelly added. “When you see someone on a Monday when they could be home or doing something else, it says a lot about them.”
Both Glasenapp and Kelly said they have a passion for working with young children and doing service throughout the community.
“This is my third year with Jumpstart,” Kelly said. “My main catalyst for starting was a love for children. I started out in the classroom as a corps member then fell into the role of volunteer coordinator. Now I have the opportunity to work with the children’s parents and talk to them about other things we do. I get to work with adults who can help me impact the children that we serve.”
Glasenapp’s story is a bit different.
“I’ve had a passion for community service since high school then after college, I did Teach For America and taught first grade in Phoenix in a low-income urban district,” Glasenapp said. “I never expected to want to go into education when I was in college, but working in an under-funded school kind of ignited a passion in me to continue this work.”
“When I finished in Phoenix, I didn’t feel like I was done fighting this fight,” she added. “Having taught first grade, I knew the building blocks. When I was done with first grade, I wanted to focus my energy on even earlier education.”
Rebecca Zoll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full disclosure: Connor Showalter is a corp member for Jumpstart and a staff member of The Temple News.