During her AmeriCorps VISTA term from 2013-2014 ,Geraldine Lester made waves as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Prescott Unified School District. Geraldine created PUSD’s Volunteer program which has become key to the school system’s success working with over 800 volunteers a year. Since completing her service term, Geraldine has gone on to continue to work in schools now focusing on education and ensuring academic success.
Q: What projects did you work on during your service year?
A: I coordinated and supported the development and implementation of district wide practices in volunteerism and service for the educational environment of preschool through 12th grades. This program served to enhance the academic, social, and youth development experiences for students in the Prescott community. This project had a direct impact on poverty by increasing the number of volunteers in the classrooms and increasing the time spent with children who needed additional help to regain and remain at grade level proficiency. The following were the successes of the program:
–Development of online application process and roll-out for effective management and accountability;
-Developed training; Volunteer Orientation, Child Protection Training, Basic Tutoring Training;
-Successfully matched volunteers with opportunities throughout the year;
-Successfully sustained 250 volunteers within the school district;
-Assisted in the development of web-page and other materials for volunteers.
Q: What valuable skills did you gain from your time with Arizona Serve?
A:I was able to utilize the skills of program assessment, development and sustainability. Another area of personal and professional development was building partnerships in the community.
Q: What have you gone on to do since your AmeriCorps term?
A: I have provided service to students through educational instruction to ensure academic success. I provide classroom management through establishment of classroom protocols and procedures. Encourage individual student learning through provision of a variety of educational materials is part of my service. I have been responsible for the safety of students within the school environment and off school grounds. Specific area of instruction I am responsible for has been varied, as needed. I have been responsible for working with students from diverse population backgrounds: Some of my work has included:
-Assisting students with computer instructional programming;
-Developing documents to serve as organizational tools to enhance student management;
-Assisting with student education and behavioral assessments;
-Participating in Professional Development including courses designed to improve skills with identifying abuse, work with exceptional students, administering first aid, bio-hazardous training, and instruction on how to work with students with physical and emotional special needs as well as students who are homeless.
Q: How does your experience with AmeriCorps impact what you do now?
A: I continue to seek opportunities where I can be of service in address equal rights and social justice issues in my community.
Q: What words of wisdom would you give to members currently serving?
A: You are doing a wonderful service and you will never look at the world the same way. AmeriCorp VISTA offers an opportunity to provide both personal and professional growth.