A few of our NESS SEA AmeriCorps members spend their school day at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School (BDJMS) helping teachers and students in many ways. Our NESS classroom at BDJMS is a donor sponsored classroom and allows for NESS members to have a space to prepare and teach programs, as well as for mentoring and giving students an area to work on academics.
Throughout the day, members are assigned to classrooms of teachers who have requested classroom support from NESS. NESS educators can give individualized attention to students who need some extra support during class. Our members work one-on-one and give gentle reminders to students who are off-task, while the teacher is free to continue teaching. Classroom support also provides the opportunity to build relationships with students not just outside of school, but in the classroom setting as well. For our members, it’s great to get to know students in the classroom, so they feel more comfortable when they’re out on the water with us.
During the three lunch waves, NESS AmeriCorps members are responsible for running the “Quiet Café” program. This program gives neurodiverse students a place to sit and eat lunch in a quieter, more controlled environment, away from the chaos of the lunchroom. Members interact with these students and make sure that lunch is not a stressful experience for students with a range of abilities, ranging from sensory overload to more severe mental and physical disabilities. Many of our members mention that Quiet Café is the highlight of their day, finding that it gives time to make real connections with students. Whether it’s making conversation with very shy individuals or pondering some real-life questions like, “Who invented batteries?” and “What is college?” Quiet Café gives both members and students a chance to connect.
Afternoon Program Prep
Towards the end of the day, the classroom is a place for preparation! Members busily get ready for afternoon program, which means running down to the cafeteria to grab the snack (graciously made for us by the cafeteria and Brigaid staff), getting bus and attendance lists ready, and checking students in. From here, the students and educators are off to afternoon program! Check out our NESS SEA AmeriCorps Facebook page for more insight into our New London classrooms!