Volunteers of America Awarded State Grant; Will Partner with King’s on Learning Works Program

Volunteers of America Awarded State Grant; Will Partner with King’s on Learning Works Program

For Immediate Release
Further Information: Contact Joseph Giomboni
Public Relations Office, (570) 208-5958

February 14, 2012 - The local chapter of Volunteers of America has launched Learning Works, a new after-school program that is helping more than 100 Wilkes-Barre Area School District students from low income families. This innovative program is designed to teach skills that lead to school success, present a variety of career paths, provide a “hands-on” work opportunity, and help families prepare their children for high school and beyond.

Once a week from January through May, 33 local middle school students, called “Learning Workers,” spend an afternoon on the King’s campus, where College student volunteers tutor and mentor them on a one-to-one basis. Mentors and their assigned Learning Workers end the session by eating dinner together in the Sheehy-Farmer Campus Center.

Volunteers of America has two full-time “Learning Coaches” and a graduate intern who conduct regular home visits. Certified teachers, one of whom is bi-lingual, and coaches provide additional tutoring for all children in the home and help parents set and reach monthly goals geared toward school success and family bonding.Students in 5th – 8th grade at Dodson Elementary, Kistler Elementary, and Meyers Junior/Senior High schools participate in the after-school program, while roughly 70 more receive academic help in the home.

Volunteer tutors and faculty members of the College will guide the students through a “hands-on” project that will include elements of reading, financial literacy, career exploration, math, and technology.  The goal of the project will be for students to develop a product which they will sell at a popular local festival in May.

King’s will also host an evening event for the Learning Workers and their families in early April. Called “Dinner with the Pro’s,” it will bring together working people from a variety of career paths to talk about their experiences and opportunities in their field or industry. This event is designed to help Learning Workers find inspiration for a final presentation each will do on a career that interests them. They will use King’s College’s D. Leonard Corgan Library for their research.King’s staff members also helped to develop an on-campus kick-off workshop for the program held in January.

Learning Works is funded by the Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board (WIB). The WIB is the Governor's principal private-sector policy advisor on building a strong workforce development system aligned with state education policies and economic development goals.  The grant was provided through the Youth Workforce Investment Board for Luzerne/Schuylkill Counties.

Shown are Volunteers of America staff and King’s College personnel planning activities for the Learning Works program.

Shown seated, from left, is Summer Krochta, administrative director of Volunteers of America; Shannon Doyne, project manager for the Learning Works Program, Volunteers of America; and Giselle Hage, Learning Works coach, Volunteers of America.

Shown standing, from left, is Dr. Bill Bolan, director of the Shoval Center for Community Engagement and Learning at King’s College; Heather Elphick, AmeriCorps VISTA Member and volunteer at King's College; and Dr. Russell Owens, assistant professor of education and coordinator of the education fast track program at King’s.

Absent from photo is Sarina Shock, Learning Coach, and Jamie Hasiak, graduate intern, both from Volunteers of America, and Dr. Valerie Kepner, assistant professor of economics at King’s College.

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