Hello! My name is Brianna Beaulieu and I am serving as a first-year AmeriCorps VISTA in the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District (EUPISD). My VISTA role within the EUPISD is to coordinate service-learning by partnering with The LEAGUE Michigan. The EUPISD is the largest geographic district in Michigan. Covering approximately 4,000 square miles, it serves three counties, 17 school districts and 7,500 students. The EUPISD includes Chippewa, Mackinaw, and Luce County. My host site is within Chippewa County in the city of Sault Ste. Marie, which is on the border of Canada. Sault Area High School and Pickford Community Schools both have given me space within their building to come work out of as well.
Service-learning is a teaching methodology that engages students in service projects and/or events that are connected to the school's curriculum. For the month of January, service-learning has had a big focus on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and random acts of kindness. There have been classrooms throughout the ISD that have been writing thank you cards to police officers, firefighters, emergency workers, and more. These thank you cards are to show their gratitude towards service workers for keeping the community safe. In addition, students have been putting together thank you kits for their school aids, running food drives, pledging to do acts of kindness, and many other impressive service oriented activities. After I am done writing this I will travel with the volunteer coordinator from United Way of the EUP to Gros Cap Schools in Moran Township to help run a MLK Day of Service Project with their student council within Mackinac County for seniors and veterans.
For my Vista Year Initiative, I launched a literacy program on October 25th called Read to Succeed. This is a program that welcomes any youth to the ISD to participate in a fun and educational session for one Saturday per month. They are also able to trade in used books for new books or if they don’t have books to trade, they can take books home to read anyway. This is utilizing books from Read n’ Give. I am working on the exact number for how many students we have reached with the program so far, but the number is getting to be approximately 100 and some of these students have come back every month. It is wonderful to hear stories of how much this program is starting to gain appreciation. This month, we had a MLK Day theme for the program. The students and their parents all really enjoyed the kindness themed story, activity, snack, and craft. They always look forward to the book exchange at the end also.
As the year continues, I am looking forward to helping more classes participate in service-learning and getting to know more of the community that I am serving. With such a large area to cover, I am constantly making new partners which makes this job a true joy.
Each blog post is written by one of our program's VISTAs!