What do you get when you cross Nyack College School of Education with community service? You get a program that truly lives out its conceptual framework of S.A.L.T. (Service, Academics, Leadership, and Teaching)! On October 14th, the Education departmental chapel was transformed into a “candy store” of community service opportunities as each of the speakers shared, from softened hearts, ways education students could make an impact in the community. The representative organizations from Rockland County were: Big Brother/Big Sister, ARK (All Rockland Kids for Christ), One 2 One Tutoring and a representative from student government.
Big Brother/Big Sister has been a ministry of Nyack College and proceeds from the Homecoming golf tournament have gone to help with this work. Natasha Pettigrew, the Admissions administrative assistant spoke from her heart as to how having a “little sis” changed her life. She urged any student who had at least eight hours a month to consider being a mentor for a child. Several students expressed interest in this commitment.
One 2 One Tutoring is a ministry opportunity located only about five minutes away by the Nyack State Beach. The bungalows of an old retreat center have been winterized and fitted with desks and chairs to serve as evening classrooms. To date, seven students volunteer on Monday and Wednesday nights by teaching English to second language speakers. It is quite overwhelming as you approach the meeting rooms and experience the hustle and bustle of “language” filling the air. At the end of each session, it is not unusual to hear over two hundred Latino Americans serving up a round of thunderous applause in gratitude for the opportunity given to them.
The ARK (All Rockland Kids for Christ) has been in existence for about fifteen years and was begun by Dr. Craig Ellison, of Alliance Theological Seminary, and directed by his wife Sharon. Since they have moved on, Chris Kotecha, a graduate of the seminary, has taken over leadership. The organization sponsors homework clubs, food drives, and summer camp opportunities for the children of Rockland County. We plan to partner with this organization during this Christmas season by wrapping donated gifts for children and collecting mittens for the cold winter days. The mitten collection will begin the third week of November and the education lab will be transformed into a winter scene from Jan Brett’s book, The Mitten as trees ornamented with birds, snow and mittens will “grow” in every corner.
What does this mean to the School of Education? First, we are helping to fulfill the college’s core values by being both “Socially Relevant and Personally Transforming.” Second, we are modeling life- long habits of service for our pre-service teacher education students. Finally, we are coming together as a community to address vital needs which impact how the children in Rockland County thrive in the local public schools.