Elementary Literacy & Arts Program at West Buffalo Charter School
The EL&A program is a literacy and arts program started as a service-learning and volunteer experience for students at Buffalo State delivering an afterschool program serving the students at West Buffalo Charter School. The goal is to build a reciprocal learning environment in which pre-service teachers and other students at Buffalo State are given the educational opportunity to bring their coursework to life while providing enriching learning experiences for youth attending the program. The core team is comprised of Podolefsky AmeriCorps ABLE volunteers, Work Study students, and service. Since its inception, the program has been designed and taught by Buffalo State service-learners and volunteer content specialists in Art Education, Elementary Education and Reading, Dietetics and Nutrition, Science Education and Dance.
In 2015-2016, the EL & A program was relocated from the CAC to operate at West Buffalo Charter School; increased in size to serve a greater number of students; and expanded in scheduling to operate four days per week instead of three. This realignment resulted in significant restructuring of the program and reshaping the nature of the role/involvement of West Buffalo Charter School.
Each week tutors planned daily enrichment activities around a weekly theme such as: teamwork, science & nature, the animal kingdom, food/nutrition, space/constellations, literacy and the arts. Each weekly theme was supplemented with selected books that were read aloud by tutors. Students also received daily tutoring in the form of homework help and had the opportunity to participate in recreational games and physical activities. Finally, a key aspect of the program is service-oriented and based around a theme of “caring for others and our community”. To celebrate the end of the fall semester of program, students participated in a Week of Caring. Activities were designed to celebrate the end of the program for the semester and raise students’ awareness of the importance of serving and helping others. Students also made “Bracelets and Cards of Caring for Sharing” for children at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Each student made two bracelets with words of caring/inspiration and a card. One bracelet was attached to the card and one bracelet was kept by the student. Cards and bracelets were donated and distributed to patients with assistance from the Child Life Department at the hospital. In the spring, students made “no-sew” blankets that were donated to children at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.