During the coronavirus pandemic LTG Ambassador and XSTREAM Program Coordinator, Joyce Matthews, helped over 150 Braddock Elementary and Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) club students learn and serve.
The TJHS students work with Braddock Elementary students each year in mentorship roles in both afterschool time and summer activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the TJHS students knew Braddock Elementary kids would miss the engagement, activities, and fun that comes from interacting with older students in-person. This group of highschoolers contacted Ms. Matthews to ask if and how they could still spend time with the local elementary students.
"I was so happy to hear from them and excited to brainstorm ways they could engage with our students and the community, even during this time," said. Ms. Matthews. Club sponsors and students quickly made the shift to virtual to engage, inspire, and empower one another when stay-at-home orders came into effect.
The TJHS mentors offered to create short videos about themselves and why they participate as mentors. Some shared their most memorable activities from science investigations and experiments and others decided to read aloud science resource books or create vocabulary reviews. The team went a step further and STEAMBASSADORS created STEAM Kits to send home for students to maintain skills and spark curiosity.
"Our parents are happy that students can continue to participate," said Ms. Matthews. "Braddock students are able to see one another virtually and work together on the activities created by the their high school mentors."
The response from the community and the participation of 2nd to 12th grade students are examples of the power of service-learning. Generocity and service will always stretch beyond boundaries and structures! Even during a pandemic, there is an opportunity to think creatively and help meet needs in the community.
"Our school went above and beyond to provide for our students during this time," said Ms. Matthews. "We offered Grocery Pick Up options weekly and created a space in our large white tent to engage with students while practicing safe social distancing." The STEM4Tomorrow Mentors created opportunities for younger students to watch or engage in small science experiments while their parents were at Grocery Pick Up.
"We are so excited to STAY CONNECTED with our Braddock students," said one TJHS mentor. "We wanted to provide support and we made it happen," said another TJHS mentor.
In addition to all of the above service opportunties, Ms. Matthews encouraged her students to participate in #DoGoodFromHome while #LearningtoGive using Simple Safe Service. The Simple Safe Service were developed to give kids and their family's ideas for generous actions that encourage youth voice and promote the common good, even when we are apart. Each project includes step-by-step instructions, reflection, and a connection to an optional lesson plan. View Guides
Here is an example of one of the videos created by TJHS students highlighting their favorite science experiments and activities: