Kim Ziegler | Saturday Volunteer

Kim Ziegler-photo.jpg
Last spring I worked mostly with kids from kindergarten to second grade, helping them with their homework. We read lots of books, learned shapes, counted by tens, did addition and subtraction, colored, and played board games!

Brief Bio: Kim Ziegler has a PhD in Italian Studies from NYU where she is a teaching fellow in the College Core Curriculum program. When not teaching or volunteering at CPNYC, she loves going to Brooklyn Bridge Park with her husband and cooking and (most importantly!) eating good food, especially dishes from her home state of Louisiana.

Date you started Volunteering
March 2016

What inspired you to get involved with CPNYC?
I live in Bed-Stuy and was looking for a way to become more involved in the neighborhood and to work with kids in the process. I was inspired by CPNYC’s mission, especially how the program focuses on children as whole people, offering them support in everything from after-school programs to mental health.

How have you served as a volunteer?
I am a regular volunteer at the Saturday Resource Tutoring Center. Last spring I worked mostly with kids from kindergarten to second grade, helping them with their homework. We read lots of books, learned shapes, counted by tens, did addition and subtraction, colored, and played board games!

Share your most memorable moment as a volunteer.
I am constantly entertained and impressed by the kids. After we did a school worksheet one Saturday, Nicholas asked to color. So we found a coloring book, soon he was cutting out characters and telling a story about them. We set up a table and chairs, and he put on a play using the characters as puppets. He was so creative! It really was fun. Other times, I have run into kids in the neighborhood, and they say hi and give me a big hug. They seem happy to see me, but what they don’t know is that seeing them makes my day!

What are some lessons you have learned through this process?
Doing school work on a Saturday is not an easy thing, so it is really important to acknowledge this and to share with the kids how we are proud of them for coming in and trying to get work done. I think the organization of the day, where we work and have periodic breaks for the kids to play in the gym all together is key. It’s natural that some kids, especially the younger ones, may have difficulty concentrating. At the same time, I have learned that we volunteers have to be patient and keep encouraging them even when they try to avoid doing work at all costs. Some kids repeat over and over that it’s too hard or that they can’t do it, and you worry about upsetting them. But I’ve realized that we are also teaching them how to stick with a task. As long as the tutor sits by the child’s side and offers encouragement, she or he can do it. It’s amazing to point out to the students after they’ve completed a whole assignment, “Look at what you did. That’s awesome!”

What advice would you offer to future volunteers?
Brush-up on your superhero and cartoon characters beforehand so that you can impress the kids with everything you know! I feel so old sometimes, but the kids are happy to explain new shows and characters to you. ;) Get a good night’s sleep before you come. Young people have a ton of energy!