‘Silver’ project helps kids go for the gold

Jessica Sedotto tutors a student. Photo courtesy of Michele Chard

Jessica Sedotto tutors a student. Photo courtesy of Michele Chard

WAXHAW – Three local Girl Scouts are joining forces to help students at New Town Elementary School maximize their learning experience.

Shaina Edmonds, Megan Chard and Jessica Sedotto, all 13 years old and members of Troop 3452, are dedicating their Silver Award project to tutoring New Town students who need a little extra help with reading, basic math and other subjects.

Michele Chard, the troop’s assistant leader and Megan’s mom, works as a substitute teacher at New Town and learned of a need among students for extra tutoring. The girls jumped at the idea of helping the kids through their Silver Award project.

“A lot of kids needed extra help, so we come in in the mornings and hang out with the kids,” Shaina said.

All three girls are rising eighth-graders at Cuthbertson Middle School, so their schedule allows them to work with the students in the mornings before their own classes start. The girls began visiting the school in February, working with the students every Tuesday and Thursday from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. They worked individually and with small groups of children each week.

The girls plan to resume tutoring a few weeks into the 2014-15 academic year and continue until the end of the school year, as the Silver Award project requires Girl Scouts to complete at least 60 hours of work. The project is designed for Girl Scout Cadettes in sixth, seventh and eighth grade and is a precursor to the Gold Award – the most prestigious merit a Girl Scout can earn.

(Left) Shaina Edmonds and (right) Megan Chard tutor kids at New Town Elementary School as part of their Silver Award project. Photos courtesy of Michele Chard

(Left) Shaina Edmonds and (right) Megan Chard tutor kids at New Town Elementary School as part of their Silver Award project. Photos courtesy of Michele Chard

The hardest part of their project, the girls said, has been convincing the students to believe in their own abilities.

“I had a kid who thought he couldn’t do it. He said he couldn’t figure out the (answer),” Megan said. “He was tired and done with it, so he started crying.”

The girls have exercised patience – something they’ve learned a lot about through their project – and constantly encourage the students and work to convince them to reach their full potential.

Despite the challenges, the girls say they’ve enjoyed hanging out with the kids – something they say has been their favorite part of the project by far.

“You go, and they just make your day because they’re so cute and sweet,” Megan said.

Shaina agreed.

“I love seeing the kids and their faces light up when you walk into the classroom … (and) the teachers love it, too,” she said. “They were like, ‘Oh, it’s great that you’re coming, because the kids really like it, and it helps them get one-on-one time.’”

As a substitute teacher, Michele Chard sees students in many grade levels who need extra help to stay on target, and she also understands the need teachers have for volunteers, like the Girl Scouts who are willing to provide that extra help.

“I know that, since I’ve subbed in every grade (level) and so many classrooms, it’s hard for the teachers to have time” to work with all the students who are behind, Chard said. “It’s hard for assistants, too – there’s not as many of them – so they really need the extra help to get the kids up to where they should be.”

One aspect of a Silver Award project is sustainability, so the girls are looking for ways to keep the tutoring initiative going after they finish eighth grade.

“We’re thinking of having the high school honors beta club carry it on, or some other group,” Megan said.

Though the girls are on hiatus from tutoring during the summer months, they’re still enjoying Girl Scouts-related activities, which recently included a trip to Europe to visit England, France, Switzerland and Italy.

“I’ve always wanted to go to the top of the Eifel Tower,” Jessica said shortly after returning from the trip. “It was better (than I thought it would be).”

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Josh Whitener

About Josh Whitener

Josh Whitener has been with the Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group since 2010, currently serving as the Features Editor of Union County Weekly. Josh graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2009 with a degree in communication studies. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and writing music and spending time with his wife, April; sons, Caleb and Aiden; and two beagles, Annie and Dori. Have a story idea or question for Josh? Contact him at josh@carolinaweeklynewspapers.com.

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