This is my 12th year as a SMART volunteer. I’m embarrassed to admit that I originally started volunteering for completely selfish reasons – to get out of work as my employer paid for us to volunteer during the work day. I quickly realized that I was gaining so much by helping my two kids and became addicted to volunteering with SMART.
Over the years, I’ve had a wide variety of children as I’ve volunteered at four different schools. I’ve had the extremely shy, hyper active, short-attention span, advanced readers and ESL students. I’ve had my favorite and not-so favorite kids. However, every year I’ve experienced seeing how much joy each children eventually get out of reading or learning a new skill such as reading with emphasis, I’m reminded how great this program is.
I’ll never forget a 2nd grader who seemed to be a bit of a bully to other kids, who consistently ran ahead to the SMART room and hid from me. He always wanted me to read to him and wasn’t interested in picking out his own books. As he gained more confidence and read more and more indiviual words he eventually chose a Bob book. As he neared the end of the book, I could see his excitement grow. When he finished the story, he stood up with the book in his hand and shouted to the entire room, “I read the entire book by myself!”
As a person who has chosen not to have children, this is has been a great way for me to be connected to my community.