Aiton Elementary School – Washington, DC
Alesha Martin, second-year Pre-K tutor at Aiton Elementary School in Washington, DC, shares how a lifetime dedicated to volunteerism motivated her to apply to The Literacy Lab.
1. When did you first get involved with volunteer service opportunities?
It seems like I’ve been involved in some type of service all of my life. In 2000, I started volunteering more formally with the Greater Washington Urban Leagues’ Young Professionals Auxiliary Thursday Network. I was the Community Service Programs’ Chair, Community Service Events’ Chair and also revamped a one-on-one tutoring service for K-12 children in a low income housing building. My main passion is volunteering for services that empower women. I have taught Conversational English to kids in India, helped to organize clothing drives for women on public assistance trying to get job interviews, and volunteered for prom attire drives to give low income kids things to wear at their senior proms.
2. How did your prior service work motivate you to apply to be a Pre-K tutor?
When I volunteered at a homeless shelter for women and children, I noticed that a smile, word of encouragement or just kneeling to talk to a small child would make them happy. Additionally, I have been teaching a nursery class for Saturday Church School at First Baptist of North Brentwood for around five years and love the age group. These specific experiences made me wonder what a more intentional conversation with instruction could provide for these kids. When I decided to take a year off from my previous job, I saw The Literacy Lab Pre-K tutor position and it seemed like something that would be fulfilling as well as fun.
3. Has your position as a Literacy Lab PreK tutor enhanced your commitment to volunteering?
YES!!! I get to see the children every day. I am watching them grow and learn. They have confidence that they can be anything. I get to work with people who love children and their jobs. I play, sing, and dance every day! It’s a blessing that I can serve and continue connecting to people in the community.
4. Is there a moment when you knew your work as a Literacy Lab tutor was making a difference?
There are so many reasons I feel like the work I do with The Literacy Lab makes a difference. Every day, I can tell that the students I work with feel empowered when they are speaking and are fostering a love of words. One particular moment that stands out is when I saw a student who didn’t recognize a single letter in the beginning of the year recognize the letters of her name and also say them aloud in front of the rest of her classmates. She seemed confident, aware that she was smart and proud of her new knowledge. Little moments that show a major change in mentality toward reading and letters always stick with me.
5. What advice do you have for someone interested in getting involved in service but unsure of where to start?
My advice is to think about something that is important to you, how your particular talents can be useful to that cause and how much time you want to commit. There are hundreds of organizations and millions of people that can use some help. They are all a Google search away.