Get Involved with WLC and Mentoring!

by Jamie Schwarzenbach
Women’s Leadership Council Member

As trees begin to bud and the weather warms up, many of us are planning our summer vacations and waiting for the snow to melt. A few weeks ago, a group of Women’s Leadership Council members met to learn about some new volunteer activities that will kickoff this spring. With new opportunities to mentor at-risk kids, there are volunteer options that fit into everyone’s schedule.

The “Get Connected, Get Involved” networking and informational meeting opened with some heart-warming thank you letters from the students at Granite Park Junior High. Students expressed their gratitude for the college funding and financial literacy lessons that WLC volunteers have provided over the past several months. Most of the students don’t have any family members or friends that have been to college, so these presentations give students hope that a college degree is attainable for them. These presentations also give students the skills needed to navigate the process.

Jamie Schwarzenbach IWLC members were excited to learn about the Mentor 2.0 program, which is a mentoring opportunity that will serve 75 10th-grade students at Cottonwood High School. These students are primarily refugees or first-generation college students that came to Cottonwood High from Granite Park Junior High. The Mentor 2.0 program is a partnership between United Way of Salt Lake and Big Brothers Big Sisters and will connect busy executive level mentors to students electronically. The school has found that students are more open in an email setting than they are face-to-face. Mentors will help students with their weekly topic though email, and then meet in person once a month to solidify what they have learned. This is a great opportunity for those who want to get involved with a mentoring program, but need a more flexible schedule and time commitment (approximately 3-4 hours per month).

During the meeting, we also learned about a short-term commitment with a big impact. We learned that over 87 percent of students at Cottonwood High have failed at least one core class needed for graduation. Volunteers can help get students back on track by helping them complete credit recovery packets, which are offered as a final chance for students to get the math, science, and other core credits they need to graduate. Many of the students in the at-risk group do not have family resources to help them with the packets, so the volunteers can help give them the confidence and encouragement they need to work through the assignments and complete them on time. The 9th Grade Credit and Recovery program starts soon and will be ongoing throughout the summer. There is a flexible schedule with a variety of one-hour time slots each week. The goal of this program is to get 100 percent of at-risk students on track to graduate, and there are over 175 students that could use your help! Just one hour of your time will help a student graduate from high school.

So, while you are scheduling camps and summer vacations, schedule some time to reach out to WLC and learn more about how you can help make a lasting difference for kids in our community.

Paulette Cary IIFor more information about the Women’s Leadership Council, or to sign up to volunteer please contact Zenia Frendt, Leadership Giving Director of the Women’s Leadership Council, at zenia@uw.org or (801) 736-7708.

Parents and Pastries at Oquirrh Hills Elementary!

amy_worthingtonby Amy Worthington
Volunteer Events and Training Coordinator

On the third Friday of every month, students at Oquirrh Hills Elementary set their alarms and wake up early to participate in the school’s Parents and Pastries literacy event. Parents and Pastries is a monthly activity intended to encourage students and parents to read together. Students are invited to bring their parents before school to read a book together, and once they’ve completed their book, everyone is rewarded with a delicious donut!

Often times, due to schedule restrictions, many students’ parents are unable to join them. We’ve been fortunate to have dedicated volunteers from inContact who have made time to join students and sit in the hallways to read. We are grateful for the employees of inContact and their continued commitment and support of the students at Oquirrh Hills! Thank you for LIVING UNITED!

image 01

If you or someone you know is interested in getting more involved in literacy improvement efforts in our community, we are always looking for book donations (lightly used books for children ranging in ages of 2 to 18). For those looking to become an ongoing reading volunteer, visit our website for more information on the Read. Graduate. Succeed. program or contact our Volunteer Center at volunteercenter@uw.org!

Making Attendance Count at Oquirrh Hills!!

linton-stephanieby Stephanie Linton
Oquirrh Hills Community School Coordinator

Oquirrh Hills makes every day count! Thirty schools in Granite School District are actively participating in the “Every Day Counts” initiative to make sure that kids are attending school and reduce chronic absenteeism. Oquirrh Hills ranks 10th (as of January) and attendance is up 3 percent from last year. Students can’t learn if they aren’t in school, so even just 3 percent makes a big difference.

Oquirrh Hills has deployed several strategies to combat chronic absence, including a big push for attendance awareness. Talking to students about the importance of being at school is crucial. If they are late or absent it can affect the entire class, and students and parents need to understand how serious chronic absenteeism can be. Oquirrh Hills also had posters littering the hallways outlining how missing even a few days, regardless of if they have been excused, can put students behind or at-risk for academic failure.

For students who are already chronically absent, the “Mentoring for Success” program has been helping to get them back on track. Of the 28 students who were identified in September as being moderately to severely chronically absent, missing up to 20 percent or more total school days, only 17 are still chronically absent. Several of the 17 remaining students have been paired with high school students from the Kearns High Latinos in Action program to serve as mentors and perform check-ins with the students. During check-ins, these LIA students get to know their student, and are given opportunities to let their students know they care. The idea is that children feel that their mentor would miss them if they aren’t in school, and give them a reason to attend beyond academics.

In addition to these strategies, a school-wide contest is in full swing. Each classroom has a goal to spell a series of words. Each day when every student attends class, they earn a letter towards the word. After spelling their first word, “BRAVO,” each classroom earns a piñata, provided by our parents in the Family Center. Each word after that earns them a treat for their piñata that they will be able to enjoy at the end of the year!

WP_20140313_11_19_54_Pro

We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we have some great ideas already in the works for next year about how to spread the word that EVERYDAY COUNTS! 

Math, Science, and Literacy Night at Roosevelt Elementary Community School!

beckyby Becky Eisinger Land
Roosevelt Community School Coordinator

All year, students at Roosevelt Elementary Community School have been focused on increasing their math, science, and literacy skills. Because our students have worked so hard, we decided a celebration of math, science, and literacy was in order! On February 22, we invited all students and their families to Roosevelt to participate in math games, explore science projects, and read Dr. Seuss stories. Fourteen members of UWSL’s Leadership Circle generously volunteered their time to help run math games, answer questions at the science fair, and read Dr. Seuss stories. A huge thank you to these volunteers – we could not have done this without you!

Fifth and sixth grade students had their science projects on display in the gym. Parents and students were able to walk around and learn about all of the topics students explored. These projects had been judged by volunteers earlier, and winners were announced during the evening. The top winners in each grade won a bike, and all winners received a trophy. Winning science projects included “Tootsie Pop Take Down,” where the student determined how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, and a research project titled “What part of the ear is affected by hearing loss?”. The grand prize went to the student who tried to answer the question “Can you power a motor with food?”.

Roosevelt Science Fair Winners IVStudents were also able to practice their math facts with exciting math games including basketball math, golfing for numbers, and beach ball math facts! Leadership Circle volunteers and parents helped students with the games and students had fun showing off what they have learned so far this year in unique and fun ways!

The literacy celebration was coordinated by Roosevelt’s Read Today coordinator, Jeanne Pence, and celebrated all things Dr. Seuss! Leadership Circle volunteers read Dr. Seuss stories to small groups of students throughout the evening. Afterwards, students received a bookmark and a Dr. Seuss book, courtesy of Leadership Circle volunteers and an Eagle Scout. The library was decorated with Truffula trees from The Lorax, and volunteers wore red and white striped Cat in the Hat hats! A teacher even dressed up as the Cat in the Hat!

photo3

Overall, this was a fantastic evening. Thank you again to Leadership Circle, Roosevelt teachers and staff, and all of the families who attended this fun event!

Thank you for LIVING UNITED!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Oquirrh Hills Elementary is “Lighting the Way to a Brighter Future”!

linton-stephanieby Stephanie Linton
Oquirrh Hills Community School Coordinator

As you walk into Oquirrh Hills Elementary, it is hard to miss the giant lighthouse in our front hallway, signifying “Lighting the Way to a Brighter Future.” But, what’s more impressive, are the hand-colored paper boats surrounding it.

Teachers and students have been striving to reach a school-wide goal of 15 percent growth in math and reading. Teachers have been diving deep into the data, studying the pre-tests, and altering their teaching to meet the individual needs of their students. They have even been staying afterschool to help tutor students who screened particularly low. Students have been filling out feedback books after meeting with their teachers, building classroom growth charts, setting personal goals, and in the case of one of our fourth grade classrooms – they have been chanting “BE CONFIDENT” and shouting goals in the hallway before they take their tests.

The boats mark math achievements for many students. Students who made the most growth (not the highest score, but the biggest gains in each classroom) got to put a boat by the lighthouse. One classroom had a three-way tie, and more ties happened in two other classes – making a total of 31 boats!

What was really amazing was the growth. Out of just the 95 students attending our afterschool tutoring program (who were identified as performing well below academic standards), 14 scored proficient on their first of four Math ACUITY tests. One of those scoring proficient went from 0 percent to 85 percent, and another from 30 percent to 95 percent, and yet another from 20 percent to 88 percent. An additional 52 students made enough growth to move up one or two tiers, moving them out of the intensive category.

There are still a few more tests to go to see overall school growth, but this snapshot was an encouraging boost to all involved in making it happen, especially the students!

Way to go Oquirrh Hills! Thanks for lighting the way and LIVING UNITED!

WP_20140116_004