When Emma began attending Friendly Center’s daily after-school program in August 2018, she had difficultly speaking, reading, and writing in English. Friendly Center staff and tutors noticed that Emma, a first grader, quickly became frustrated with homework assignments and struggled to read at a level comparable to her peers. Though her siblings were fluent in English and she progressed from kindergarten to the 1st grade, she still had trouble keeping up; as a result, Emma was afraid of interacting with others, being wrong, or embarrassing herself.
This began to change once Emma started getting more comfortable with program staff and students. Her tutors worked as a team to encourage Emma to participate in activities by providing translation and ensuring she had a tutor to work with one-on-one as needed. This specialized and dedicated support transformed Emma’s abilities: today, just 8 months later, she speaks English confidently and can read and write proficiently for her grade level. Emma is always eager to show off her reading awards and now looks forward to attending The Power of Me to explore the classroom library and socialize with her friends.
Emma’s academic and social growth is not only attributed to support from tutors, but also The Power of Me’s comprehensive programming. The Power of Me’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) curriculum consists of engaging activities designed for students like Emma to think creatively and figure out innovative solutions for daily projects. In turn, Emma didn’t have to be afraid of being wrong because there isn’t just one right answer. Additionally, the program’s emphasis on literacy exercises and technology-based learning gave Emma a rigorous and safe learning environment to explore her strengths and improve weaknesses. Every part of The Power of Me program day has a purpose and connects to grade-level standards. Because of the volunteers, staff, and donors who make The Power of Me possible, students like Emma can receive the stability of daily academic support, the opportunity to cultivate academic strengths, and the hope to escape poverty through education.