Student-Led Volunteer Opportunities
A Year of Service in the Walla Walla Valley
"Going to Whitman doesn't mean you just live in Walla Walla--in order to be a citizen here, you need to engage with the community." - Claire Pepple '18, Story Time Leader. Video created by Katy Laliotis '21.
These programs allow Whitties to volunteer and connect to the Walla Walla Valley on a regular basis. Each year a cohort of current students lead these programs with support from the Student Engagement Center. If you're interested in these (paid) leadership positions, hiring happens every spring--contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Advanced Studies Enrichment (ASE) emerged when the principal and teachers of Wa-Hi recognized that AP science and math students could use some extra support. With a generous grant from Pacific Power, Whitman developed a weekly tutoring program to help these students. For tutoring dates and more information, click here.
Building bridges across generations.
Adopt-A-Grandparent facilitates relationships between Whitman students and senior residents at Odd Fellows Home to create conversations and form relationships across generations.
The Adopt-A-Grandparent program pairs Whitman students with residents at the nearby Odd Fellows senior home. Volunteers establish relationships with their adopted grandparents, helping to improve the quality of life for the residents through consistent companionship. You can also read the most recent news about Adopt-a-Grandparent here.
Applications open at the beginning of each semester. After the application due date, new volunteers learn about the program and complete paperwork at an orientation. Email the Adopt-A-Grandparent intern at email@example.com.
Each volunteer commits one hour per week to visiting his/her grandparent and attends one large event each semester. Events include carnivals, performances, and dances put on by the Adopt-A-Grandparent program at the Odd Fellows senior home.
Together, grandparents and volunteers tell stories, play games, listen to music, read books, go for walks, make crafts, and attend weekly programs at Odd Fellows (chair exercise, bingo, etc.)
Returning volunteers must attend orientation each year and renew their background checks. Without a current background check, returners can visit their grandparents only in public areas.
If you cannot visit your grandparent during a given week, let him or her know in advance and notify the AAG intern, who records attendance.
Using language to bridge cultures and build safety nets.
Bilingual United volunteers assist in elementary classrooms at Green Park and Edison elementary schools in Walla Walla. Volunteers act as an academic and emotional support as they transition from learning only in Spanish to learning in English.
Bilingual United volunteers offer academic support to ELL students in K-3 classrooms with students working on math, science and literacy fundamentals. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and read program blog posts to learn more.
Spanish language proficiency is a pre-requisite for this opportunity. Students who have tested into 200-level or about Spanish courses at Whitman (or can otherwise prove proficiency) are eligible.
Time Commitment & Slots
Volunteers work in the classroom for 1-3 hours a week. The walking commute is a short walk or bike ride to either Green Park or Edison Elementary. Additionally, a mandatory hour-long orientation occurs at the beginning of each semester. Volunteers are excused from working on vacations and during finals.
To promote friendships between Whitman Students and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Buddy Program connects students with intellectually or developmentally disabled adults in Walla Walla. Students meet with their community buddies twice a month for various activities, including dances, movie nights, crafts, bowling, and more. Outside of structured time, students will often get together with their buddies to get coffee, go to the park and Humane Society, and just hang out and have fun! Email email@example.com with questions and check out these posts to learn more.
Volunteers meet with their buddies twice a month at The Buddy Program events. Between planned events, students are expected to contact with their buddies on two other occasions throughout the month. These contacts can include emails, phone calls, Facebook chats, letters, in-person outings, etc. It is best if student/buddy pairings last for at least a year. If a student goes abroad, his/her buddy will be assigned to someone new, but the student is encouraged to maintain contact.
Applications open in September. Depending on how many Whitman buddies study abroad in the spring, it is often possible to become a buddy starting in January.
Matching occurs based on scheduling and responses to a survey in the application.
If you cannot attend an event, contact your buddy and the Buddy Program Intern at firstname.lastname@example.org at least three days beforehand.
Engaging local high-school students through academic support.
Classroom Connections seeks to provide high school students in the Walla Walla community with Whitman volunteer classroom tutors and role models who will help students develop self-confidence in their ability to be successful in higher education through promoting academic commitment, strong study skills, goal setting, and college planning awareness.
Classroom Connections is the only SEC community service program that serves high-school students. Many Whitties who participate are interested in education reform, Teach for America, and other post-graduate education goals. Email email@example.com with questions.
Volunteers tutor once a week for at least a semester in Guided Study classrooms. Carpools are available.
Guided Study is a class offered at Walla Walla High School for students who specifically request it or are referred due to low academic performance. Some students are directly placed in Guided Study from middle school, others come in later after an unsuccessful quarter or for other reasons. Students can "test out" of Guided Study by improving their academic performance after a certain period of time (but always at the end of a quarter — students do not leave mid-quarter). The classroom is designed to provide 9th and 10th grade students with a structured environment to complete work independently and develop study skills. Students fill out planners, set goals, check progress reports, and complete their work all under the supervision of a teacher and a para-educator. Guided Study also exposes students to the possibilities of college. Students will explore different schools, learn about the application process and , and apply that information to their own academic standing.
Tutors help the classroom teacher by keeping students on task to get their homework done, checking their progress reports and planners, and assisting with assignments and study skills. Tutors also lead small group activities intended to motivate students to pursue college dreams.
Volunteers must attend one orientation per year, complete background checks and fill out a Volunteer Disclosure Agreement and Community Service Liability Waiver.
Applications open at the beginning of each semester. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Fostering intergenerational friendships through food.
Seniors Making Meals is a five-week course during which Whitman students make meals with seniors, fostering intergenerational friendships and providing information regarding nutrition and cooking skills. The program results from a partnership between the Walla Walla Senior Center and the United Way; it's funded by a grant from the Council of Independent Colleges. These positions are paid by the hour.
Students attend a weekly three-hour class and two lunch-and-learns per semester about aging and nutrition led by professors when Seniors Making Meals is in session. Carpool is available.
Students prepare a lesson plan once every five-week session, participate in team-building exercises, and lead set-up and clean-up before and after each class.
Participants must be currently enrolled and eligible to work at Whitman College.
Applications open at the beginning of each semester. For more information, email email@example.com.
Promoting early learning in Walla Walla by bringing story characters alive.
Reading with the youngest members of our community is essential. Story Time volunteers travel to classrooms and daycares throughout Walla Walla to read stories to children. The project aims to improve kids’ listening, speaking, writing, reading, and critical thinking skills through exposure to reading while also promoting diversity, acceptance, and the celebration of differing cultures through stories. The program includes children ages 2-7. Bilingual volunteers, especially those fluent in Spanish, are welcome, as several reading destinations are bilingual or Spanish-speaking environments.
Story Time began in 2002 as a collaborative effort between the Walla Walla YMCA and the Whitman College Student Engagement Center. It has since become a permanent program within the Student Engagement Center and expanded to meet the needs of eleven local children's agencies. The project's collection of books includes over two hundred titles. More than fifty of the books are written in Spanish. The books have been purchased and donated through the generous support of Vanessa Prull, Earthlight Books, the Whitman College Bookstore, and members of the college community.
To learn more, read blog posts pertaining to the project.
Readers work in pairs and read for half an hour each week.
Applications are open at the beginning of each semester. Applicants are welcome to request their reading partners. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Launched in 2012, this partnership provides opportunities for imaginative writing in Walla Walla public schools and for Whitman student writers to share their passion and talents with younger students.
Made possible by grants from the Whitman Innovation in Teaching and Learning program and by the George Welch Trust and the Carrie Welch Trust.
The Walla Walla Whitman Imaginative Writing Partnership was launched in 2012 to provide further opportunities for imaginative writing in Walla Walla public schools, while also providing Whitman student writers with an opportunity to share their passion and talent for writing with younger students. The program gives a number of Whitman students who are also talented writers and who have great potential as teachers the opportunity to combine the knowledge and skills they gain in creative writing courses at Whitman with the experience of teaching imaginative writing to younger students in Walla Walla public schools. The Whitman writers gain teaching experience and learn more about the poems, essays, and stories they bring into class by teaching them; the younger student writers have opportunities to write great poems, stories, and essays.
The project is modeled after highly successful writers in the schools programs in a number of cities, the three most notable being The Teachers and Writers Collaborative in New York, Writers in the Schools in Houston. http://www.twc.org/ and http://www.witshouston.org/, and 826 Valencia in San Francisco and a growing number of other U.S. cities. http://826valencia.org/.
A select number of Whitman students (6-15 in a year) who have completed a two-credit course in imaginative writing lead creative writing exercises with students in Walla Walla public schools. The project offers Walla Walla public school students an exciting experience of the written word that may be a bit outside the norm. Teachers at participating schools often see that their students' curricular writing improves as a result of their experience with this approach to writing and through an infusion of fresh energy and voices in their classrooms. It's usually also the case that the imaginative writing exercises address the state standards. This approach has proven to be a good way to inspire good students to their best achievement in the written word while also winning better participation from students who are not always engaged by more conventional approaches to writing instruction.
A typical residency consists of between five to ten visits to a classroom by a team of two to three Whitman students. At each session, the Whitman students lead the class in a writing activity (usually with a reading component), give the students ample time to write while conferring with them, collect their work, and return for the following session with written feedback on the younger students' writing. Every student in these classes contributes at least one piece of original, revised and polished writing (their best!) for inclusion in an anthology, a copy of which will be distributed to every student in the classroom at the end of the year. The younger students are usually very proud of their work in the anthology. Following publication of the anthologies, we will celebrate them with an event or events on the Whitman campus to honor the good writing that has taken place in all the classrooms that year. If you are a teacher or a Walla Walla public school administrator interested in setting up a residency at your school, or if you are a Whitman student interested in participating in the program, please email Scott Elliott at email@example.com for more information.
If you are interested in donating to the Walla Walla Whitman Imaginative Writing Partnership, please contact Rachna Sinnot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Walla Walla Public School Teachers
"The [Whitman teachers] were fabulous from the get-go. Kids loved them, they were engaged in lessons (both sides) and the final product [anthology] was nicely put together....That closure celebration was special."
"I really enjoyed this opportunity--truly a highlight of my year! Thanks!"
"Many of the activities were engaging and fun--the poetry days were particularly engaging. I wish I had the forethought to teach some poetry before that time. The students looked forward to the days when your students taught class."
"Everybody wrote and participated. Everybody produced something. The anthology represents a best work of many students. It is fun! Those recognized at the 'read-aloud' were thrilled to be selected."
From Whitman Students
"Teaching imaginative writing to fifth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders, I felt I was learning as much as my students. No amount of theoretical discussion could have prepared me for the questions and challenges and thrills that emerge in the classroom, from the pedagogical (how do we create a cohesive arc within a lesson, as well as among lessons?) to the linguistic (how do we engage students who still struggle to write complete sentences in English?) to the logistical (when is it good to give every student a copy of the poem for discussion, instead of projecting it?). Still, the first-semester independent study was very valuable for me, mostly because it gave us a solid class structure to build on in the spring. By the time we got to the school, the format we'd practiced-start with reading and discussion, transition to a writing exercise, have students write while we conference individually with them, then come together and share the new work-felt intuitive, natural. The teachers of both classes I worked with (7th-8th grade Explorers, and 5th graders) commented to us that they had never thought of using that format for a writing lesson, and that they were impressed with its effectiveness. The teacher said the format gave her ideas to implement with her next class.
It was so exciting to see students be surprised by their own creativity and eloquence. On our first day with the Explorers we wrote a group poem, with each student contributing one line. "We wrote that?!" a couple of them marveled aloud. On Sestina Day, a diminutive student volunteered to read his sestina. It was energetic and beautifully written, like the start of an epic. As he read, I could tell he was realizing how good it was-his voice got louder and more expressive, he sat up straighter-and when he finished reading the classroom broke into unprecedented applause. From then on, he was one of our most attentive students. Speaking of breakthroughs, we had a fifth-grade student who was still at first-grade reading and writing level due to a serious learning/developmental disability. She could write a block of text, but it was rarely cohesive or sensible to anyone but her. On Revision Day, I worked with her to pick a detail in her story that she wanted to tell us more about. Twenty minutes later she approached me exuberantly with a page-long story that had a beginning, middle, and end, and consistent characters. It was grade levels beyond what she had been writing, and she did it herself...."
"The program was wonderful, and I cherish the memory of working with the talented 7th and 8th graders. I thought the program was a fabulous success. The reading at the end was a nice celebration..."
"I guess I can start off by voicing my appreciation for being offered such a unique opportunity! I was curious about teaching when I first came to Whitman and this was my first encounter with real, consistent classroom leadership. Actually, up until this past summer this was the only experience I'd ever had with creating lesson plans, assigning (and grading) homework, and formally teaching a curriculum. So it was definitely valuable in developing the skills and instincts I'm looking for as an aspiring educator."
Planting the seeds of confidence in young students through sustained relationships with Whitman mentors.
Started in 1994 as part of Jamey Wolverton's psychology thesis, the Whitman Mentor Program builds strong and lasting mentor-mentee relationships between Whitman students and Walla Walla elementary schoolers.
Whitman students join their mentee at recess once a week. Mentees also visit Whitman College each spring for a day long carnival called Mentees to Campus Day.
The Whitman Mentor Program accepts online applications in early September for new mentors. Depending on the number of applicants and the number of mentors studying abroad, it is also possible to join the program in January. Email email@example.com with questions.
If you cannot make it on your designated day, contact your Intervention Specialist and CC firstname.lastname@example.org so that the Intervention Specialist can let your mentee know and your absence can be excused. Unnotified mentees often linger around the office for all of lunch and recess wondering why their mentor didn't come visit. If you are in a carpool, let those people know as well. Finally, try to reschedule for another day that week or go twice the following week. Regular time together is vital for building a strong mentor/mentee relationship.
If you would like to visit your mentee more than once a week, contact the designated Intervention Specialist for your school.
Students who plan to go abroad can mentor for a semester provided they find a replacement to fill in while they're away from campus.
When a mentee is sick, the Intervention Specialist notify us and interns try to inform the mentor. If you arrive and realize that your mentee is absent, spend time with the children from your mentee's classroom.
This program trains Whitman students to teach about the 1960s civil rights movement in local schools. Using curricula developed by the Walla Walla Public School District and the Southern Poverty Law Center, WTTM increases tolerance and anti-discrimination education. For this year's schedule and more information, visit the WTTM website here.