Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Looking Back

           As Jumpstart is coming to an end, I keep thinking back about all of the things I have learned in the past semester. I have definitely grown a lot and learned a lot. I have gained new friends and experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

            Every time I think about Jumpstart, I can’t believe it’s ending. It was only like three months ago that I started, and to think that in these past three months, I have committed over 200 hours to Jumpstart alone. I think about the kids and the growth that they have made, all of the materials prep and team planning. I think about the mission of Jumpstart and the ways in which I have personally seen them play out in the classroom. I hear stories from other Corps Members and Team Leaders and I realize how much of an impact Jumpstart has on the community at large; that the impact goes far beyond the kids it serves.

            The two most memorable experiences I had at Jumpstart were actually during CAT and TOPEL testing. The first, during CAT, I was working with a student who was struggling to participate and having a bad day. I talked to her and listened to what she had to say and gradually she became much more engaged.

            The second most memorable experience I have from Jumpstart was after TOPEL testing. I had one of the quieter kids in the class, who was incredibly smart and sensitive. Before starting the test, we talked about the Easter egg he had decorated, and he was clearly very happy to have one-on-one time with Jumpstart. After I had finished testing for the day, he ran up to me and told me he wanted to be tested again. The next day, as I came back to test, he and half the class all begged to be tested. (Granted, this excitement changed as the reality of sitting still for the entirety of the test became clear, and most of them lost excitement very quickly.) However, this child, at the end of this day, again ran up to me before I left.

            I think these examples go to show that you really don’t need to do anything extraordinary to make an impact in someone’s life. Just noticing and commenting on the smallest things has a huge impact on people’s self-worth and attitude for the day.

            While I can say that I learned flexibility and patience through Jumpstart, these are things that I am reminded of every time I work with children or in new situations. But these smaller things are unique to Jumpstart and are memories and lessons that I know I will carry with me in the future.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Jumpstart Reflection

This semester has been revolutionary in that my team and I can finally see how much progress our students have made, both academically and behaviorally. I remember how much of a struggle it was at first to pass out name cards and expect students to be able to recite the letters in their names. Now, however, they are all eager to spell out their names and the names of their friends. Every week I include cards with vocabulary and words relevant to the week’s book and while one student is able to already read these cards; other students are successfully able to spell the words out which is good too. For our session reading, right before I even say the name of the book, my students recite to me the rules that follow during reading. They tell me how they are supposed to act and sit and show me without me having to say to do so. Although this does not last, they understand and will follow the rules when I reinforce them.  During reading, students often relate the book to books we have read previously and will answer my questions with more thought. My favorite moment is when they take turns answering or asking questions, though that is still something I am excited to keep working on with them. In circle time, most students now understand the concept of listening and sitting quietly and it is very exciting to see them understand the activities we do during circle time. The best part is when the students really know the words to songs and correct us or their friends. Centers always vary in quality and quantity, but overall, especially in comparison to the beginning of the year, students have come to enjoy all centers more equally and are a lot better at following directions than before. I noticed that Dramatic Play has always been the most popular and that their behavior has greatly improved over time during this center. During art they are better able to understand the need to have cleaner brushes and mixing colors on the paper rather than in the paint cups. It is interesting to see how they act now and remember how they acted before. I think our time there has been spent in a valuable way and that we really have helped to make a difference in the lives of the children. 

-Ekaterina Vasilenko

Friday, April 3, 2015

            It’s crazy to think that in the beginning of the year our kids were brand new three year olds just coming off of two, and now after eight months they’re three years olds turning four! Their growth has been dramatic and quick, and it has been an honor watching it. Even just one month can make a difference! When my team got back from winter break we couldn’t believe how different some of them were after just four weeks. Every single kid in our class has grown since the beginning of the year, but there are some that have had especially drastic changes. I’m blown away every session at how smart all of them are.
            There are two boys in particular who were the quietest ones in the class at the beginning of the school year. They barely talked, and they froze up whenever they were asked a question. They couldn’t even tell me what the first letters of their names were. I remember asking one of them what the first letter of his name was way back in September, and after long and careful thought, and looked up with an endearing smile and said enthusiastically, “Q!” (His name does not start with a Q). He can now spell his entire name, as well as recognize and name other letters. Both of the boys are now also some of the most social ones in the class, and they’re always willing to volunteer for games and songs during circle time.
            Another boy in the class is constantly blowing us away with his intelligence and superior observational skills. The other week, my team was a little late walking in the classroom, and when we finally did, we found him standing at the front of the classroom pointing at the clock. His teachers told us that he was just informing the class the big hand was on the six and the little had is on the three, which means that “Jumpstart isn’t coming!” We apologized to him for being late and promised that we wouldn’t do it again, and he wouldn’t let us forget it for the rest of the day.

            It’s bittersweet coming to the end of the year, because even though we have seen so much progress in every single child, it’s going to be hard to leave them and not be able to follow their progress in the next coming years and see how much more they grow. I am so excited for all of their futures because they are all such bright kids and have every capability in the world to achieve anything that they want to.

-Laura Zartarian

Thursday, April 2, 2015

One of my favorite parts of being a part of Jumpstart has been seeing how much the people of the school we serve, including the parents, the staff, and the kids, truly appreciate us and the program. Jumpstart is a significant time commitment with the session days and the hours we have to put in to make session happen, especially for already busy college students, but it’s all worth it when we walk into the classroom and are greeted with smiling faces and a chorus of “Hi Jumpstart!” It’s exciting to see all of the work you’ve put in and all of the time you’ve spent on making the session the best it can be actually come to fruition. My station in particular is the “dramatic play station,” which is essentially playtime with a theme and something to be learned, and I can honestly say that it’s one of my favorite parts of the week. I spend hours and hours each week constructing doghouses and washing machines and elaborate animal themed masks (tonight I need to make an ice cream stand), but the kids seem to like each creation more than the next.

One of my favorites was the washing machine and dryer, which another corps member and I created over two days and ended up with a washer and dryer with doors that could open and close and press-able buttons that we were especially proud of. When we brought them to session, kids flocked to dramatic play to get the chance to “do their laundry.” It was pleasing to see how easily they seemed to get the concept of putting the clothes in the washer first with some “laundry detergent,” and sticking a dryer sheet in with the clothes in the dryer. If they dropped anything on the ground after unloading of it, they were quick to say, “Oh no! It’s dirty, we have to put it back in!” I was even able to teach some of them how to fold and put the clothes away.

This past session is the one where I made the masks, and it seemed to be one of their favorite props to date. They all wanted a mask, regardless if they were at the dramatic play station or not, and they all enjoyed trying on every single one. It also happened to be Parent’s Day, and the parents that came also loved the masks and wanted to take some home to their other kids. It’s wonderful to be appreciated for the work that you do.

-Laura Zartarian

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Look Back

                                                                               A look back

            I wrote my first blog post about a week after I started my first session here at Jumpstart. Now, I have about five weeks left until the END of session. The time surely did fly by.  What can I say? Jumpstart is truly wonderful! I have seen the most incredible growth in the children at my school and it warms my heart. I would like to share with you my reflections as the year is coming to a swift end.
            I have learned quite a few things from working at Jumpstart this semester. First, children don’t want you to pretend when you talk to them. They want truth and they WANT to learn! Before jumpstart, I didn’t really know how much children crave knowledge and now that I do, it helps me in session a lot! Second, we (members of Jumpstart) have the power to really impact children’s lives. We have the immense responsibility and honor to enrich their world with vocabulary and skills. Each day that I go to session, the children participate and answer questions, laugh with me, and engage in the program, which is incredible! Third, their minds are constantly growing and molding into the people they will someday be, which makes me feel proud to know them. I think that’s really what I’m trying to get across here, I am abundantly proud of not only being a member of jumpstart but also the children I work with weekly. I go there to teach them, but in return, they have taught me. They have taught me how to be more patient, more animated (read to reconstruct, you guys know what I mean, ha-ha), how to look at the world with a more imaginative mind, and much much more. I am grateful to have found out about Jumpstart and if I could describe my experience in one word, it would be proud.
            Now, to sum up my thoughts. There have been so many, and I mean countless, amazing moments that I have had at Jumpstart, that I can’t pick one. Instead, I will say that no matter what kind of a day I am having, good or bad, stressful or not, every Monday and Thursday that I head to my site, the day gets better. The children’s smiles, silly laughs, moments of understanding, and general great personalities warm my heart and brighten my day, without fail. Not to mention my amazing team who always makes a laugh!

Thanks for reading about my experience!
Sarah Katz

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I used to think that children would have less energy in the afternoon sessions of Jumpstart, but I was so wrong. Every single time we walk into that classroom, the kids scream and get excited and never been anything short of animated and enthusiastic.

Our session yesterday had been two weeks after the previous one because of snow days and spring break, but the kids had no readjustment problems; most of them were more on top of it than usual! Although Welcome was difficult because the kids were getting restless easily (as they are starting to know most of their letters), they were still energetic and one student in particular turned the tables on me by taking my name tag and asking me what certain letters were like I usually do. This particular moment made me smile because the student was being silly but also corrected me when I said that the letter “h” was the letter “n.”

Despite a two week break, the students in my reading group seemed to remember the core storybook very well. We were on the second implementation for One Dark Night, and as soon as I showed the cover and asked the students what they thought would happen to the cat, I received answers like “she’s going to go inside!” and “the cat is going to hide from the storm!” I especially was proud that they used one of the vocabulary words while describing what was going to happen.

A majority of the class gives all of the corps members hugs as we leave and one student in particular said “Thank you” today. I’m not sure what he was thanking me for, but it was a good moment.

-Mihika Wagley

Friday, March 13, 2015


On Monday, I went in for CAT hours for the first time. I went in the morning, which is different from my usual afternoon schedule. Because of this, I was in a class that had some friends that I see in session, as well as some new faces. It was interesting to me to see how the children interact and how they respond to their teacher. However, during these CAT hours, there was a student who was very upset. The assistant teacher asked me to work with the student. Now, a few weeks ago, after classroom observations, one comment that was made was to really reach out to students who are visibly upset and to encourage them to use their words to tell you why they’re upset.
So, with this in mind, I tried to talk to the upset girl. At first, she kept crying, though it was obvious that she was listening to me. I told her it was OK to cry, but that I needed her to use her words to tell me why she was upset so that I could help her. She was very receptive and eventually explained why she was upset and we talked about ways to avoid her getting upset again.
This was a very fulfilling experience for me. This experience allowed me to get to know more students at my site and create a more meaningful connection with the children.