All juniors at MAMS must complete 50 hours of community service during their time at the academy. Some of these hours must also be in high need areas helping people with disabilities or other important services to specific members of the community in need. For most of my hours, I was able to participate in tutoring through the rising stars program at MAMS as well as volunteering with the special needs department at Norfolk Public Schools.
Rising stars is a program run by the current Mass Academy seniors and connects our students to fourth and fifth graders at Abbey Kelley in Worcester. These elementary level students are paired up in one on one tutoring sessions with our high school students as we work through whatever topics they might need help with in school at the time. I personally tutored a fourth grader who needed some extra help in math. We spent one hour a week together working with fraction and decimal conversions, improper fractions, and other similar topics. We grew very close over the few months we worked together and I am so grateful for the opportunity rising stars provided. I hope to continue working with the initiative next year as well.
Norfolk Public Schools is known for having an incredible Special Needs program with a great reputation. I was able to volunteer inside some of the sub-separate classrooms alongside the SPED teachers to teach the kids current topics they were working on and just have fun with them. We played typical preschool games and were learning to write letters and numbers. I also assisted in some one-on-one instruction with the occupational therapist as she pulled kids from their classroom for individual services. I learned a lot about the balance between inclusion and sub-separate learning for these children with disabilities and developmental delays. The teachers were very kind to me and appreciated my help and it was a great experience to watch them work so closely with the students.