Saving the World through Education

By Shannon Herbst, AmeriCorps State Member

As a child, I never thought that I could save the world. In school, I learned about poverty and environmental destruction, but I had no idea how I could make a difference in the face of such massive problems. After working at a summer camp in the San Jacinto Mountains outside Los Angeles, I found a different approach to education. I witnessed firsthand as young people learned to understand one another and care about the world around them.

I had my solution. I was going to save the world by fostering connections between humans through education, so that they, in turn, would care for the earth and for each other. I began a BA program in Education at Prescott College, but I felt that I needed a deeper understanding of the public school system. A friend recommended an Americorps position that served in a public school classroom, and I immediately applied.

I began my service with the Prescott Unified School District in October of 2017. As an aid in a third grade classroom at Lincoln Elementary School, I play a key role in ensuring that each student receives individualized attention. Students are often pulled out of class to participate in programs that provide them with academic or developmental support; however, these students are the ones who struggle the most to keep up with the classwork that they have missed. I work one-on-one with the students who need support in completing their classwork, usually in math, reading comprehension, or writing skills.

In addition to educational development, I provide emotional support for students. Often, the students who have a difficulty focusing in class are the students who are dealing with issues in their personal life. Many of these disruptive students feel as though they nobody expects them to do well in school, and that it is not worth their time to try. These are actually some of my favorite students to work with. Merely providing an ear to listen allows students to realize that someone cares about them and believes that they can succeed.

I am only a few months away from the end of my service, and looking back, I am so thankful for this opportunity. This position connected me with talented and passionate educators within my community, as well as provided me a space to develop and practice my skills in instruction. Most importantly, my time in the classroom allowed me make connections with students that made a difference in their lives. These connections are ultimately the reason that I know I will be continuing to pursue a career working with children, taking my service with me long after my AmeriCorps term is over.