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Nathan Sany '14 outlines the impact of the Whitman Mentor Program for members of the Walla Walla Public School Board during their meeting Oct. 2.

9,575.

That’s the projected number of hours Whitman students will spend working in Walla Walla’s K-12 classrooms this academic year.

Four Whitman students shared this fact and more with members of the Walla Walla School Board at their meeting Oct. 2.

Members learned that in addition to serving their community, these students are also sharpening their leadership skills by spearheading volunteer efforts like Whitman’s Story Time Project, Mentor Program and College Coaches.

“The partnership between Whitman and Walla Walla Public Schools is tremendously positive for both sides,” said Susan Prudente, outreach coordinator for Whitman’s Student Engagement Center. “These schools welcome our students in, and our students  make valuable contributions to the classrooms they serve.”

About 140 Whitman students volunteer for the Mentor Program alone, which targets elementary school students in need of role models. Other volunteer efforts include the tutoring program America Reads/America Counts, Whitman’s community-based Science Outreach and Project Eye to Eye, which serves students with learning disabilities.

walla walla public schools
Allison Burns '13 presents facts and figures about Whitman's outreach programs to the school board, including newly elected member Ruth Ladderud (left), a Whitman staff member.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Whitman as we strive to enhance learning opportunities for our students,” said Mark Higgins, director of communications and community relations for Walla Walla Public Schools. “Whitman is a tremendous resource for our entire community, and we are grateful to extend these services to Walla Walla students. Whitman students serve as positive role models and mentors for Walla Walla youth, and these relationships support efforts to improve academic achievement and success in school.”

Thanks to the success of these partnerships, four Whitman students were recently invited to present for the school board about the number, placement and impact of Whitman volunteers and interns. These students included Nathan Sany ’14, an anthropology major from Portland, Ore.; Natalie Pond ’14, an English major from Lake Oswego, Ore.; Sophia Larsen ’15, an undeclared major from Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Allison Burns ’13, an English major from Boise, Idaho. Sany and Burns run the Whitman Mentors program, while Pond and Larsen are responsible for College Coaches and Story Time Project, respectively.

The students created a PowerPoint to showcase the efforts of Whitman volunteers working with every grade level. According to Prudente, the four of them spent several hours crafting their presentation, which they delivered for the school board from start to finish in the allotted seven minutes.

“The board was very impressed,” Prudente said. “It was quite an opportunity for the students to speak to these high-level community leaders and decision makers, especially since the number one skill required for going into the labor market now is the ability to make a successful presentation.”

This board meeting also marked another special occasion – Ruth Ladderud, an administrative assistant at Whitman, was sworn in as the newest member of the board.

For more information about community service opportunities at Whitman, click here.

—Gillian Frew '11