12/26/18 A place to call home

A place to call home
Volunteers tutor children in Elon’s ‘It Takes a Village’ program
By Alexandria Gaines, The Times-News 12/26/18     
Reprinted with permission.

Volunteers help elementary school students from the Alamance-Burlington School System choose fruits they would like to sample at the It Takes A Village event inside Alumni Gym on the Elon Unversity campus.  

Robert Thomason / Times-News

Volunteers help elementary school students from the Alamance-Burlington School System choose fruits they would like to sample at the It Takes A Village event inside Alumni Gym on the Elon Unversity campus.

 

Elon University’s “It Takes a Village” project is bringing the phrase to life by bringing students and community volunteers together to help pre-K through 12th-grade students with reading, math music and science.

And when the students celebrated the end of the semester in the university’s Alumni Gym, the younger ones (pre-K through fifth grade) met with a nutritionist, and the older students prepared ingredients for takehome meals.

“The Village” was created in 2008 with Elon education students providing afterschool reading assistance to third-graders. The program has since evolved.

“We started 10 years ago with about 16 kids, and now we have about 300,” said Dr. Jean Rattigan-Rohr, the program founder and director. “Elon students tutor the students mostly one-on-one, some in small groups.”

Harvest Table, which provides dining on campus at Elon, partnered with It Takes a Village to use cooking as a way to learn fractions, addition, subtraction and scaling, and provide a real-world context for the concepts students have been learning in the program.

Throughout the semester, Harvest Table provided meals for the village’s studying, and tutoring sessions every Wednesday.

“At the beginning of the semester, Dr. Rohr and I started talking about those meals, and I said our culinary team would love to get involved more,” said Laura Thompson, resident district manager of Elon Dining. “I brought up the idea of the culinary cooking class, and she said, ‘Let’s do it!’”

The take-home meal, created by the older students, consisted of a three-bean soup, corn bread and chocolate cake. These were recipes they had been learning for the semester.

“We started talking about the math component, that they were trying to focus on math, so we said, ‘Why don’t we give you the recipes?’ The kids can start to learn fractions and scales and all that,” Thompson said. “It’s great that tonight they will be able to create a meal that they get to take home with them.”

The younger students were given headbands to color and wear that had pineapple or broccoli stems on them. They also tried fruit and vegetable skewers.

Elon students who mentored these kids joined them on the floor to help out. During the fall semester, 150 Elon students volunteered to be a part of the program.

“As you can see there is a tremendous amount of community among the parents as well,” Rattigan-Rohr said. “It’s not only a space where children are learning. Parents have found community in the space, and our own Elon students really enjoy the work.”