Archive | February 2012

I love the APIE team!

I’ve decided to wrap up Heart Month with a love story about the APIE team. If you are a volunteer in Classroom Coaching you know about the weekly support you receive from your Program Coordinators. Katia, Dawn, Elena, Amy, Sandy, Kirsten, Jessica and Chris provide real-time problem solving and coaching, weekly emails and new instructional tools to support students’ learning needs. They train every volunteer and find substitutes when needed. Each volunteer receives personalized attention even though these coordinators are supporting more than 100 volunteers each!

Our College Readiness team, Veronica, Paige and Jazmin, and their team of advocates are tutoring more than 200 students to get them ready to take and pass the COMPASS exam, qualifying them as college ready on the Texas Success Initiative standards. Being college ready means that these students can avoid developmental courses when they enter college and earn credits right away.

School mentors know that Anne’s training helps them engage with students at all levels on 120 campuses in the school district. The campus coordinators for volunteers, mentors and community partners know her as a willing and resourceful connector to help schools fulfill their needs.

But that’s just half of the story. Central to APIE’s success is the work of our systems team. Audrey, Chris, Marta and Saray have created systemic magic that drives our superior volunteer experience. They innovate every step of the pipeline, from recruitment to recognition and deliver a process so efficient that one recent volunteer went from first engagement to training in just six hours.

None of this happens without the tireless efforts of our Development and Communications team, Debbie and Denise, who’ve raised more than $1 million to support and grow APIE programs, and Finance team Robbie and Barbette who keep us compliant.

At a community event last week I met a gentleman who had never heard of APIE. I told him about 1000+ Classroom Coaches working with students in reading and math. I described 700 mentors who meet with students weekly to listen, advise and be an adult friend who cares. I talked about the 4000+ volunteers and community partners that we’ve connected to campuses in need. “That’s huge!” he cried.

It’s no secret that I am passionate about the work we do; I get that giddy, butterflies in my stomach feeling when I walk into the classroom with other volunteers each week. Am I in love? You bet I am!

Pat Abrams, Executive Director

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We LOVE Volunteer Love

Our volunteers have been sharing some of their stories from the classroom with us. I pass this one on to you:

“My favorite Christmas present this year? Three home-made tinsel “angel” ornaments to hang on my tree, each with a little photo of a second grader at Pecan Springs Elementary, where I volunteer once a week with Austin Partners in Education.   These three kids have graced my tree and warmed my heart for the past six months every Tuesday morning when we read together for 45 minutes on little chairs in their classroom.

My students are among the more advanced in their class and they absolutely soak up the extra attention and higher level work that the very small group allows. They have each advanced… and were thrilled to have moved past the workbooks up to real chapter books….  They each read a page out loud and tell me if they don’t understand a particular word. We write it down and define it together, then review the words together at the end. We read for fluency, for speed, for comprehension and for spelling. And of course we read for the sheer magic of the story.   We also play the word game “hangman” and they stump me as often I as I stump them! I literally love these kids and look forward to Tuesday mornings. My own son is in the 5th grade at a different school and he loves to hear how they are doing each week.

“I specifically asked to volunteer at one of the lowest income schools in East Austin so I  could understand the issues in our community more deeply. The children may come from poor finances but they have plenty of brainpower, work ethic and curiosity. I have come to love and respect them greatly and can see how much potential they have. Even a little extra time with them matters so much.  I look forward to seeing them grow and hope that I can work with them again next year. If not, I know there will be other students who will thrive with the extra attention and motivation.”

Thanks Robin for sharing the love.

Pat Abrams, Executive Director

Heart Month

February is Heart Month and we’ll be telling some of our love stories over the next few weeks. This week’s story comes from a Reading Coach at Burnet Middle School. Picking up on an activity from the previous week’s story, she started her lesson with an assignment: everyone write down the best thing that happened to you this week. The fidgety girls went still for a moment as they silently contemplated their highlights. Being a good role model, the coach went first: “I taught my new dog to roll over,” she said. “I got my telephone back,” reported one of the girls. They turned to the remaining student. “The best thing that happened this week is that Miss Sally came back.”

It’s unusual for an adolescent to be so forthcoming. While our second graders have not yet developed an internal editor and freely announce their displeasure with absent volunteers, twelve-year olds tend towards reticence. We work hard to get a smile or other acknowledgement of progress in our relationships. Still, they rely on us to show up, to care about what they are learning. They crave consistency. For some, after all these weeks, they are still surprised that we show up each week.

Thanks Miss Sally for sharing your love story with us!

Pat Abrams, Executive Director