News and Events
Jumpstart Volunteer Program Continues to Grow into Eighth Year
Jumpstart, a national early education organization that recruits and trains college students to work one-to-one with preschool children from low-income backgrounds, is approaching its eighth year of continued growth at Pepperdine University.
"We started the program because there were several students advocating for volunteer opportunities with young children," says Rebecca Patton, Jumpstart coordinator at the Pepperdine Volunteer Center. "There were many tutoring opportunities with high school and middle school students, but no opportunities for students to work with younger children."
The Volunteer Center staff obtained a grant from Jumpstart, a division of Americorps, and founded the Jumpstart program at Pepperdine. Through these three program areas—school success, family involvement, and future teachers—Jumpstart works to create an environment of life-long learning for children.
Patton explains that what began as a handful of Pepperdine students has grown to over 100 regular participants who visit pre-schools in West Los Angeles and west San Fernando Valley twice a week during the school year.
In the 2009-10 school year, the Jumpstart program will add an additional pre-school to its list. "This year we're looking forward to engaging the families of the children we work with," says Patton. "We feel it's a more meaningful for the students when their family is involved in the work."
The population includes a great deal of English language learners. "They get to work on their dual-language skills, and it's great to see that transformation, especially at that age, when they really develop quickly. It's exciting for the college students to see that and feel like they're contributing to it."
Patton says that the college students are often changed by the experience as well. "We get a lot of participants who are in teacher education, but there are also a great deal of other majors who want an opportunity to serve this population," Patton says. "I've seen several students change their professional goals because of their experience in Jumpstart."
Shannon Shea ('10) is coming up on her fourth consecutive year of participating in Jumpstart, and serves as student intern for the Volunteer Center. "My freshmen year I signed up, which was probably the best decision I have made at Pepperdine," she says. "I think it is a life-changing program. Pepperdine students are able to see the need for change in our community and are able to see the outcome of their work. We are able to grow as individuals and learn about social justice."