Just two weeks after Otsego Public Schools began the Hybrid Support Program called HELP (Hybrid Education Learning Program) that brings in students on their off-color days to get extra help on their work, Bulldog Buddies joined the effort. Along with certified teachers and aides, high school students are also working with students. Focused on the elementary schools, there are 3-6 high school volunteers each day at each school to assist in the HELP rooms. This allows for a lot more one-on-one attention for the students getting help on their remote-day schoolwork; there are 80 elementary students in HELP.
“During the time we spend with the kids, we answer any question they might have on their homework. Sometimes I just sit with them while they do their work and encourage them along the way,” explains sophomore Mya McPherson who wanted to get involved because it was a good way to give back and a good way to spend the time she has when she’s not in school. “So far I have really enjoyed being a part of this program because I believe I am making an impact in their day. I know if I was their age I would have loved some high schooler to come and help me with my work, so I hope they feel that way.”
Before starting in the classroom, each bulldog buddy went through training with our special education director and consultant to learn how to build relationships, how to help kids with schoolwork, what to do in certain situations and more. The relationship-building is a strength of this entire program and both groups of students, elementary and high school, are gaining a lot. “It’s going well. I have made a small and growing connection with the girls I spend most of my time with,” says junior Kendra Galloway.
Freshman Carly Jacobs is partnered with kindergartners right now helping them with math, reading and writing. She says it feels great to be a part of a program that’s helping students. “I know that students are struggling with keeping up in school and understanding their work. To have an opportunity to help the elementary students get back on track was something I wanted to do so that they have a better time in school right with everything going on.”