By: Brianna Faustini

Growing up, I always wanted to be an elementary school teacher. When I found out I could volunteer my time through the CCE as credit for my class, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to get myself out there and make the best of both worlds: volunteer doing what I love and get credit for a class. As I was deciding where to volunteer, I saw that the CCE had an after school program with elementary school students at Windham Center School from 3:15-5:15 on Tuesdays, and I knew I had to do it.

Once I became a volunteer, I talked with the volunteer leader, Alana, who helped guide me through the program. First, Alana sat me down and explained what to do, what not to do, and how to act at the program. Then we were off to Windham Center School! AUntitleds I walked in, the students all looked in my direction like I was a celebrity; they looked at me in excitement, and gave me a hug that felt like it lasted an eternity. I worked mostly with the kindergarteners and third graders, helping them with their homework and doing fun activities. One thing we did was cook! Every week a woman came in and brought ingredients and even a skillet for the children to use; they made pancakes and were able to decorate them with little treats. They all enjoyed the help and advice I gave them and always looked forward to seeing me at the program. I helped them learn different tricks, such as doing nine multiplications with your fingers to get the answer instantly!

Volunteering at the Windham Center School is such a rewarding experience. Some of the children came from broken families that didn’t have much, and giving them undivided attention meant everything since they don’t get that enough at home. I am so happy I chose to do this program through the CCE. I was able to get a real life experience and learn how the children are in Willimantic. I believe improving our children’s education, giving them more of the individual help they need, and being able to connect with them more can make a huge difference in this town’s reputation and educational system. Being able to see the children on a weekly basis, I was able to build a strong bond with them, making me never want to leave. I knew what each student had to work on to improve and what they were confident with. Although I am done with the 15 hours of community service I need for class, I still plan on volunteering my time here next semester, becauseUntitled1 of the impact it had on me.

I would recommend that everyone do this program and have a chance to experience what I did. When you work with these children, you realize how lucky you are to have what you do, especially because some of them have broken families. They look forward to seeing you every week, and you walk into the room, the looks on their faces are priceless. The bond that you create with them is like no other feeling in the world.

To look at photos of this program, check out our Flickr account! Windham Center After School Program