Hey guys, it's Shalyn! In the past month, I’ve finished my second year of service as a VISTA at Delta College, packed up my apartment in Saginaw, moved to Lansing, and started my new position as VISTA Leader at MNA. It has been quite the whirlwind, but I am happy and excited about what this next year will bring.
At Delta College, I was the program manager for a mentoring program called Public Achievement. We partnered with Washington Elementary in Bay City, which is where I realized how much I love working with kids. I’ve even considered going back to school to get my teaching certificate, but that’s down the road, and I find that I want to do something new every day (also, I don’t want to take out anymore student loans). During my time as a VISTA, I also found my passion for service. I was always very service oriented growing up, but doing it full time was a whole new experience. It fueled me and shaped me into the person I am now and I hope everyone in our cohort can find growth, strength, and direction during there year of service. It’s very inspiring being a VISTA Leader and hearing what all of our VISTA’s are doing around this state and it makes me feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself.
My first day as a VISTA Leader was the first day of Post PSO, where I got to meet all of the new VISTAs in our cohort. It was so exciting to get to know everyone and I’m happy I get to serve with all of you this year. I feel as though I am adjusting to my role at MNA well and have so much to learn!
Right now I’ve just finished up my check in calls with all of my VISTA’s and am leaving for VISTA Leader training this week, which is in (near) Denver, CO. Once I get back from training, Maggie and I will start doing our site visits with the VISTAs, which is where we come and visit your host site and meet with you and your supervisor to talk about all of the things that you are working on (and also take you out to eat!). Meanwhile, we are also beginning to plan our regional training, which you all will be attending in November.
This year has gotten off to a great start and I can’t wait for what’s in store!
Hi friends! My name is Shalyn Stack, and I am finishing up my second year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Delta College in University Center, Michigan. I am the Program Director for Public Achievement (PA), a mentoring program working with at-risk K-12 schools in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The students at Delta College are trained to be mentors to the K-12 students participating in Public Achievement and guide them towards addressing everyday issues they face, such as bullying, equality, poverty, and give them the tools to make positive change in their community.
For the past four semesters, we’ve been partnering with the students at Washington Elementary, located in Bay City, Michigan. In the past, we’ve worked on a lot of projects relating to the issues they see in their community every day, such as bullying, poverty, food, and nutrition. This past semester, we took on our biggest project yet, a community and reading garden at Washington Elementary! Collaborating with the 4th grade teachers, and Washington’s principal, Dr. Tithof, we started planning this community and reading garden project. The 4th grade teachers will be taking care of the community garden and using it as a hands-on learning space for their students since plant life, plant growth, and ecosystems is a large part of their 4th grade science teaching curriculum. After planning the project and making sure it will be sustained, the PA mentors and students were ready to put their community garden plan into action!
In celebration of Earth Day (April 22nd), the 4th graders at Washington Elementary paired up with the Delta College Public Achievement mentors to make a community and reading garden on school grounds! First, we needed supplies. All of the PA coaches reached out to the community for monetary and in-kind donations. A variety of businesses donated seeds, gardening tools, plants, and gift cards. It was an amazing community effort, and once all the supplies were collected, we could get to work. Next, the 4th graders and the Delta College Mentors needed to clean up the area. They raked leaves, picked weeds, and laid down mulch around the plot boxes. After they were finished cleaning up the area, the students planted a variety of seeds in the plot boxes and planted pansies and violas along the fence. Once the garden was all cleaned up with new flowers, seeds, dirt, and mulch, we wanted to add a finishing touch to the garden. Each student left their mark by making a cement stepping stone with their handprint in it! These cement handprints outline the path along the community and reading garden. The 4th graders were happy to give back to their school and community by revitalizing this garden. I am very proud of the hard work these students put into the community garden on Earth Day! This was the largest project I coordinated as a VISTA, and is the project I am most proud of. It was a great way to end my service as a VISTA. Now I am ready to start my new position as one of the MNA VISTA Leaders for 2016-2017!
Hi friends! My name is Shalyn Stack, and I am serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Delta College in University Center, Michigan. I am the program director for Public Achievement, a mentoring program working with at-risk K-12 schools in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The students at Delta College are trained to be mentors to the K-12 students participating in Public Achievement and guide them towards addressing everyday issues they face such as: bullying, equality, poverty, etc. and giving them the tools to make positive change in their community.
This past semester, we worked with the 5th graders at Washington Elementary, located in Bay City, Michigan. Each 5th grade class (there are three) chose different projects to work on throughout the semester that will better their school and community. We had about 60 fifth graders and 40 Delta College Public Achievement mentors for the fall semester. The projects chosen were: community garden, bike safety, and safety town. For the community garden group, they chose to revitalize an area outside of their school that has garden plots and benches. They want to make a “reading garden” for kids in the school/community. They planted wildflowers in their classroom and they’re going to plant them in the reading garden plots in the spring. We are also going to paint the benches and plot boxes to make it colorful and inviting. The bike safety group chose to make a bike safety video that would be shown district wide. The kids talked about bike maintenance, rules of the road, and helmet safety. The safety town group worked on a model sized safety town. Each student was given a different building to design, and each building talked about a different type of safety. For example: the internet tower talked about internet safety and cyber bullying. The model safety town was a very cool project to work on, and was featured on the front page of the Bay City Public Schools Spotlight!
I am now hitting the 6 month mark of my second year of service. This second term is flying by so fast! This past semester of Public Achievement was a success; each project worked on was carried out and completed. It was an uplifting semester and am excited for what the next 6 months will bring.
Hi friends! My name is Shalyn Stack, and I am serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Delta College in University Center, Michigan. I am the program director for Public Achievement, a mentoring program working with at-risk K-12 schools in the Great Lakes Bay Region. This year, we were at two schools: John Glenn High School and Washington Elementary (The school I was primarily working with), both located in Bay City, Michigan. The students at Delta College are trained to be mentors to the K-12 students participating in Public Achievement and guide them towards addressing everyday issues they face such as: bullying, equality, poverty, etc. and giving them the tools to make positive change in their community. The program has finished for this school year and will start up again in the fall when classes are back in session. This year we had about 275 4th, 5th, and 9th graders involved in Public Achievement, and over 100 mentors.
This past school year at Washington Elementary was not easy. This was the first time Public Achievement has ever been in an elementary school, and it was my first time ever running a program like this. The Delta College students I worked with were mostly just out of high school and had never worked in a school setting before. There were a lot of “firsts” this year, and I am excited to have a year of Public Achievement under my belt so I know what to change next year to make it a more successful program. Something I learned about this year as a VISTA is how important and effective communication is. There was always some disconnect between myself, the mentors, the K-12 teachers, and the principal, and it made things very difficult. We are completely reinventing the program to better suit the elementary school students and teachers, and I am very excited for the program to start next fall!
I was a co-advisor for Washington Elementary’s Student Council, which was a big role to take on. We started a school store at Washington that is student led. Washington Elementary doesn’t have a lot of activities like this due to lack of budget. They don’t have any after school programs, sports, or even latch key. The school store gave them something to look forward to every week, and the students that ran it learned about responsibility as well as supply and demand. The money raised from the school store funded the service projects we did throughout the semester. One service project we did was a cemetery clean-up at the Floral Gardens Cemetery in Bay City. We bought flowers and other gardening supplies and spent the day planting flowers around the cemetery plots. It was a great day for service!
I feel that I have grown and learned so much from this past year as a VISTA. I was talking to Betsie Schoedal, another VISTA serving at Alma College, and we both agreed that we have changed so much in the last year. I feel like an entirely different person than I was last June when I had just graduated from college. I feel like I can take on any challenge that is thrown at me. I can give presentations or lead a group of people without doubting myself or feeling anxious. I feel like a leader and a role model and am excited for what next year will bring.
Hello friends! My name is Shalyn Stack, and I am serving as a VISTA at Delta College in Saginaw, Michigan. I am the program director for Public Achievement, a mentoring program working with at-risk K-12 schools in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The Public Achievement program is currently at two schools: John Glenn High School and Washington Elementary, which are both located in Bay City. Delta College students are trained to be mentors (we call them coaches) to these K-12 students and guide them towards addressing issues in their community through leadership activities, self-empowerment, and civic engagement. All in all, we have about 275 K-12 students involved in the program, and 100 Delta College student coaches.
Something I have learned from Public Achievement is to never underestimate kids. The students at Washington Elementary have blown me away with the issues they have addressed in their school and their action plans on how to solve these issues. Popular issues that are being addressed in multiple classrooms are bullying and discrimination. Some projects we have done to solve the issue of bullying at Washington are: having a school-wide anti-bullying campaign, and putting together an anti-discrimination skit to perform at an assembly next semester. A popular issue being addressed at John Glenn High School is drug abuse, and they are putting together their action plan on how to address this issue next semester.
I am also a co-advisor to the campus organization Citizens in Action (CIA), which was created by Delta College students who served as coaches for Public Achievement in the past and wanted to get more involved on campus and within their community. One of the biggest projects CIA has been a part of is the Feeding America: Weekend Backpacks Program at Washington Elementary. The Weekend Backpacks Program is where backpacks are filled with six meals (dry and canned food) for the students to take home on the weekends. The backpacks and non-perishable food items are donated by the Eastern Michigan Food Bank, and delivered to Washington every week. Washington Elementary is an at-risk school where over 85% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch based on their family’s income. We have about 100 students at Washington who receive the backpacks every Friday and return them on Mondays when they come to school. The members of CIA organize, pack, and deliver the backpacks every week to the Washington students.
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!