"I was looking for something meaningful to do with my year." - Karla Salamanca
Upon graduation from Portland High School in 2016, Karla Salamanca knew she eventually wanted to attend college. She decided to take a gap year to learn more about herself and be better prepared when she did enroll in college. “I was looking for something meaningful to do with my year, and I searched “AmeriCorps” online and LearningWorks’ AIMS HIGH AmeriCorps Program popped up on the screen! After reading more about it, I was convinced that becoming an AmeriCorps member was something I wanted to do during the 2016-2017 school year.”
AIMS HIGH places teams of AmeriCorps members in elementary schools to increase academic achievement and social and emotional learning through tutoring and mentoring. When members complete their service, they receive an education award that can be used toward tuition, future educational opportunities, or student loan debt.
Karla will serve 900 hours this year. She does her service at Reiche Elementary School in Portland and finds herself learning something each day about different cultures. Karla admits she was very shy when she began and credits the students for making her feel more confident. “I work with English Language Learners, and the experience has helped me grow so much over the year. I think we both have learned from each other.”
Karla wants to stick with her original plan of attending college and studying education to become a teacher. There is one slight variation, however. “Last year at this time, I never would have thought of focusing my teaching on English Language Learners. But now, I know that is what I am meant to do.” One of the students that Karla has worked with was new to America when her family recently arrived from the Congo. “She had difficulty reading and speaking English and like me, was very shy. Over the year, she has constantly improved and her literacy scores have soared. I am glad to have played a part in her improving and know that I can have an impact on others like her.”
Courtesy - Gregory Rec Photography