Students in Ranney’s Upper School Community Service Board (Tinton Falls, NJ) have been sharing their love of learning with elementary school children in neighboring Freehold this year as volunteers for the Amistad After-School Program. Amistad, which means “friendship” in Spanish, is an outreach ministry that serves the Greater Freehold area. Most of the children who come to Amistad are from Mexico and their parents do not speak much English, explained the program’s chair George Sologuren. Many of the parents are also illiterate but they are huge supporters of education and want to be sure their children are learning. Volunteers come from high schools around the county twice a week to help the children with their homework and to tutor them in reading, writing and math.
What’s unique about the program, adds adult volunteer and Freehold resident Jane Healton, is that volunteers work to identify and help children who need extra attention in certain areas, such as reading comprehension and memorization of math tables. “They end up becoming a lot more confident with these skills,” she says.
The February 25 tutoring session was Ranney Junior Cassandra Kalinowski’s first experience with Amistad. She said she had fun helping a student to better understand her math division homework and teaching her how to give change with a toy money kit. “I would definitely love to do it again,” she said.
“Our Ranney volunteers impact the lives of the children in many ways. The best part for me is watching the smile on the children’s faces as our amazing students help them with their homework,” says Ina Gurman, a Ranney Upper School Spanish teacher who co-advises the Community Service Board with language teacher Maggie Reiter.
Student Service Board leaders Pauline Braka, Nikita Mikkilineni and Rachel Staats said, “Organizing Amistad has had such a positive impact on our lives. We know how important our help is to the children, and it makes it all the more worthwhile to us.”