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VIBES provides support in classrooms | Back to School
By Julie Benson
Special to the Bellevue Reporter
Summer break wasn’t a typical vacation for Kara Cox. Every day during summer school at Lake Hills Elementary, the Newport High School freshman arrived bright and early, ready to greet the students and get to work.
Kara volunteered at Lake Hills over the summer as part of the VIBES (Volunteers in Bellevue’s Education System) program, working in a first-grade classroom with teacher Liz Denning. Supported by the Bellevue Schools Foundation, the city of Bellevue, and the Bellevue School District, VIBES places trained, screened, and caring volunteers in schools to work directly with students.
“I was looking for something to do over the summer,” said Cox. “I went to an orientation and really liked the welcoming feel of VIBES, so this seemed like a perfect fit!”
Cox helped out with anything and everything, from checking homework to monitoring kids on the playground. She particularly enjoyed working with the students one-on-one.
“Some of these kids really needed extra help and attention,” she said. “I was working with one little girl almost every day on math and I could tell things weren’t clicking for her. After a couple of weeks, I could see that she started understanding more. That was really exciting.”
“Kara offered so much positive reinforcement to the students and made such an impact on their experiences in the classroom,” said Denning. “She would watch me teach a lesson and then use the same language when she worked with the students afterward, reinforcing what they had just heard.”
“I learned how to interact with kids in a different way, and be more of a teacher than a friend,” Cox said.
Although she isn’t sure yet what she wants to do for a career, she says that her experience as a VIBES volunteer helped her to see how she could really enjoy working with kids.
“Although I didn’t think I’d be so tired when I got home every day,” she said. “These kids have a ton of energy!”
For her part, Denning is grateful for the support VIBES volunteers provide.
“There is no way the students could have grown and succeeded as much as they did without the VIBES volunteers in my classroom. The extra support makes an amazing difference for me as a teacher.”
Julie Benson is communications manager of the Bellevue Schools Foundation.
How to get involved
VIBES offers many different volunteer opportunities in Bellevue schools, from one-on-one tutoring to college application assistance to STEM mentoring. Volunteers are needed for the 2013-14 school year. You can also help support VIBES by donating to Bellevue Schools Foundation. Call 425-456-4154 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.