Hello. This is Carla again. I am halfway through my VISTA year and now occupying my time with completely different projects. The school year ended this past June and therefore I am no longer working directly with students. I have now refocused my attention to preparing for the up-coming school year. What’s next for the incoming high school seniors? What can we do in working with the middle school students to help them transition into high school life? In both cases, here at DEPSA, the focus is college readiness and college access and so that’s where I come in.
Throughout the summer I have been putting materials together to give to both parents and their students to help them in the transition process. Using my experiences from this past school year and having conversations with counselors and other staff, I have gathered information from different sources which I am compiling at the moment and hope to have ready for when the new school year begins. I do miss having students around me all the time and serving as a go-to person, but knowing that I am spending my time drafting materials, gives me satisfaction and a good feeling. I only hope my work will be used and be helpful to all those that receive it.
My term will be over in November and my desire is that I am able to leave this school feeling as if I contributed to the program in positive ways. The college readiness and access program has gone through many changes and I am not quite sure at this point if I have served my term well. I guess, only time will tell.
My name is Carla Valpeoz and I am a current VISTA serving at Detroit Edison Public School Academy on the east side of Detroit. I began in November of 2015 and will be serving for a year. I work in the College Access/College Seminar Program here at the high school. Much of the time, I am focused on high school seniors; planning activities to help in the transition phase from graduation to future plans. I work alongside another AmeriCorps volunteer who conducts the actual class set up by the guidance counselors here at the school. My job is to support him in working out weekly schedules for the students and in assuring that activities are well designed and carried out to maximum quality. Some topics included are: applying to schools, financial aid information distribution, filling out scholarships, and skill-building projects. The program is very new and therefore it requires much structure, and my hope is that there will be a defined plan for the upcoming school year. It is a process, but with the support of the guidance counselors and other staff, I have managed well.
Also, I work with 9th-11th grade students on an online assessment which they are required to complete for the school. I have had to register each student, assure that they are focused and completing the profiles needed, and that they know how to navigate the website easily, as they will be using it throughout their high school career for multiple purposes. The name of the program used, which is accessible by the guidance counselors at any given time, is Naviance. It has been a constant challenge in accessing the information I need for each grade level, as well as working closely with teachers to schedule in their students for this, but it has been a great learning process and one which has allowed me to be very patient with the system here at the school, and given me the opportunity to give the students the chance to learn things about themselves and help one another in the long process.
Beyond this, I engage when need be. Students seem to trust me and feel comfortable approaching me when needing academic and/or personal support, or sometimes, someone to just speak with to gain knowledge or advice. I always extend my help and let the students know I am available and some, more than others, find me easily approachable. I challenge them to think, rather than be quick to give them answers. I feel this is the best way to help students in the learning process. Overall, so far this year has been enjoyable, and hopefully rewarding for at least a handful of students. My wish is that it only continues to get better.
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!