Kindergarten Countdown Camp: Suzanne Neumann
We are thrilled to share the next post in our Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC) summer blog series that kicked off in Waukegan on June 19th. Up next, we have Suzanne Neumann, a volunteer Reading Buddy, sharing her reflection of the past several weeks of camp:
What is your role at Camp?
I am a volunteer Reading Buddy. This is my second summer participating in KCC; I also was a Reading Success tutor for two years.
So far, what has been the most memorable part about your involvement in the Kindergarten Countdown Camp?
What I’ve found to be the most memorable is the warm reception volunteers get from teachers and students. There is nothing like walking into a classroom and being greeted with smiles and excitement! The children’s faces just light up–it is so energizing! Volunteers know they are wanted and appreciated. How many other environments provide that?
Have there been any students or teachers, in particular, that have impacted you and how?
I’ve been so impressed with how positive and enthusiastic teachers and aides are. Though little kids are adorable, working with them all day requires you to be upbeat and engaged all the time, which can be draining. Staff always are up to the challenge! I’ve also admired the young adults who serve as classroom assistants. They are so patient and helpful, and the children love them. Having someone closer to your own age to work with and look up to is very special.
Do you think Kindergarten Countdown Camp is making an impact on the children that attend?
I definitely think KCC is having a positive effect on the children that attend. They get a positive introduction to school–think how great it is to not have those first-day jitters on the opening day of kindergarten! These kids know what to expect and how to behave, which is a tremendous boost. They also make up some academic ground so that they don’t start out behind children who have had the advantage of preschool. Giving children skills and self-confidence is priceless.
What does education mean to you?
To me, education is the great leveler in our society. It shouldn’t matter where you live or how much money your family has. Education should challenge every child’s mind and help them earn the skills they need to become healthy, happy contributors to society. I know the real world isn’t always fair, and low-income families don’t have the advantages middle- and upper-income people may take for granted. That’s why programs such as KCC, Success By 6, and Reading Success are so vital. They help children to start out on a positive path in the early grades, when attitudes toward self and life are formed. Starting with a positive, solid base helps to set kids up for success!