When searching Google for volunteer opportunities, Jessie knew she wanted to find a program that impacted kids. As an aspiring teacher, Jessie "wanted to observe and interact with kids in a classroom environment" so when she found Side by Side Kids, she knew she had to apply.
"Side by Side Kids stood out to me because it not only helps students to excel in school, but it also focuses on teaching them about Jesus!"
Jessie used her volunteer opportunity with Side by Side Kids to get a feel for what teaching would be like. She chose to work with the 2nd and 3rd-grade classes at T.A. Brown because she was interested in teaching at that grade level post-graduation. Luckily, Jessie found that she didn't just enjoy this age group, but she looked forward to going back to volunteer with them every week!
After falling in love with volunteering at Side by Side Kids for a semester, Jessie decided to apply for a position as a Crew Leader. Since she wanted to be a teacher despite pursuing a degree in another discipline, Jessie knew that becoming a Crew Leader with Side by Side Kids would give her necessary hands-on teaching experience and show her what classroom management looked like.
Although becoming a Crew Leader would push her out of her comfort zone, her newfound friendship with Elizabeth, the Crew Leader she assisted as a volunteer solidified her decision to take a leap of faith and apply.
"I loved being able to help and work with Elizabeth. While being in the classroom, I could tell that the students really looked up to her and enjoyed having her as their teacher. She did such a good job at loving and disciplining them when needed. So much of what I observed her doing, whether that involved how she taught a lesson during crew time or how she calmly spoke to a student who was disrespectful, are things I’ll use as reference points as I lead my classroom because she is an amazing leader. Even though she was busy working with the kids, we were still able to talk and form a friendship, which meant a lot to me. Now, since we’re both Crew Leaders at T.A. Brown, I know that I can ask her for advice."
Although Jessie doesn't teach the same class that she volunteered with, she did become friends with those students and still loves getting to see them. As a volunteer, she made it a priority to have meaningful conversations with the kids. Now, as a Crew Leader, she is happy that she gets to continue that dialogue with them while having the opportunity to create those same relationships with her own students.