Giving back: former Eastfield students volunteer in classrooms Ginny Rhodes. August 01, 2017.

While school is still out for most students, a group of youngsters on break have returned to the classroom as volunteers.

Eastfield Global Magnet School, a year-round facility, started its 2017-2018 year on July 13, giving former students an opportunity to come back and volunteer during their last few weeks of summer.

Principal Michelle Baker said on any given day there could 15 to 20 former Eastfield students who return to assist teachers and students with whatever help they need.

“Former students call, email or drop in to schedule their volunteer time. We assign one to two volunteers per classroom so that there is an equitable amount of volunteer support across our building,” said Baker. “Student volunteers are coached about time on task, staying with their assigned teacher, working with excellence and providing help for students in our building.”

Student volunteers range from middle to high school. They spend the day at the school, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., four to five days a week. Staff told The McDowell News volunteering is beneficial for everyone.

“That’s the advantage of us being year round…we get that opportunity for them to come back,” teacher assistant Kim Presnell told The McDowell News. “The kids look up to them as positive role models. We are privileged to work with them.”

Jose Rico-Martinez, 13, will be in the eighth grade this year at East McDowell. He has returned to Eastfield every summer since he left after completing fifth grade.

“I just wanted to see my teachers and help other students on what they needed,” he said. “And helping the teachers because sometimes it’s stressful when they have a lot of kids so I like to help them to have a great day.”

Volunteers assist students with reading and math and try to answer any questions they may have. They work in the library, gym, computer lab or wherever they are needed.

Viviana Vasquez, 13, and her brother Eduardo Vasquez, 14, enjoy working with younger students and making new friends.

“I like to help, especially the little kids to see them learn and grow. I like helping the kids in kindergarten do the right things,” said Viviana.

Rocio Rosales, 17, will be a senior this year at McDowell Early College. She said returning to Eastfield brings back a lot of memories.

“I like to come back and see how they are being taught in Spanish, and I want to help them learn. I’ve been helping them with their reading, writing and math in Spanish,” said Rosales. “I hear them talking in Spanish and it’s so good, and surprising. I really enjoy volunteering here and it brings back so many memories and I just love it.”

Baker said there are clear indicators of how valuable it is having older students helping younger ones.

“Relationships matter. Kids feel valued and feel then can contribute something of worth to others. We are a global magnet school for today’s students to lead tomorrow as productive citizens that contribute and give back,” Baker said. “Students are ready to return to school and give up chunks of their summer. They come and spend every day faithfully for three to four weeks, or until they returned as students themselves. Once Eastfield family, always Eastfield family.”

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