On a typical day, we can find Leilani Chuning working hard at completing her final high school classes to graduate as she has college in her clear view, but that is not all! After lunchtime, she makes her way to elementary school! She is a reading, writing and math tutor to second graders at the Abia Judd Elementary School in Prescott, Arizona, in Mrs. Newell’s classroom as her assignment for national service in the Arizona Serve of Prescott College’s State High School Program.
“I spend my time volunteering assisting a second-grade teacher with her class, and it has been a wonderful experience. Being able to cause positive change for both children and a teacher alike is an amazing feeling, and you really get to see how much you help up close like this. I grade papers, tutor students in reading, writing, and math, and explaining problems that need solving,” said Leilani.
She works with 2-5 students at a time – answering questions and working out details of information covered in the classroom by the teacher. “A few of my students have a hard time understanding sometimes and that is not because they are slow or anything, they just take a longer time to catch on,” she continued. “The students were not given assessments before entering the class, but were interviewed,” she said. These students are struggling because they were impacted by the pandemic, and they went through events and other situations that made their lives more difficult.
What is exciting for Leilani to see is “the light bulb come on” – when a student understands what they have been discussing! “Mrs. Newell offers her students ‘Fun Fridays’ where they get to play with toys and games until they leave school one hour later,” she added.
“Mrs. Newell cares quite a lot about her students and the school. She makes sure that everyone is learning, and I am happy to help her meet her classroom goals. She has been teaching for a while, so she also serves as a mentor for new incoming teachers,” Leilani said.
In the meantime, Leilani is looking toward her future and is interested in beginning her college studies at Arizona State University in psychology or a closely related discipline. She is working out those details now. Currently, she is taking college English classes at Prescott High School. She mentioned that some of her family and friends have not yet attended college and that some have earned their GEDs while others have never advanced their education. She is determined to make an inroad to higher education and use it for the greater good of her community.
AmeriCorps State Program Coordinator, Sean Stevens, said this, “Though we started it just a few years ago, our High School ambassador program is going strong. Between PUSD, Northpoint, and Seligman, we have 17 AmeriCorps volunteers who are donating their time weekly to supporting teachers and giving back to the community. I am particularly impressed with what many have accomplished in their classrooms this year, both by supporting students who needed individual attention and by stepping up to teach classes when necessary. Maybe even more importantly, it has been amazing to see how many ambassadors have really leveraged their service for self-improvement, capitalizing on the opportunity to practice skills that will serve them in the future like public speaking and gain first-hand experience working with students which they can use to move forward into careers in education and service.”
Leilani Chuning is the perfect example of young people who are committed to serving in their communities and delivering national service in places that matter! She is shepherding a new generation of learners who will remember her assistance and kindness while making a positive difference in Yavapai County, Arizona. We congratulate Leilani Chuning!