2020-21 Annual Report
Shaina Adams-El Guabli, Williamstown Elementary School Coordinator, Classroom Support
Tracy Baker-White, Williamstown Elementary School Coordinator, Science
Despite the many challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, Williams Elementary Outreach (WEO) coordinated six programs (Science Fellows, Read Aloud Program, Classroom Help, Big Sibs, Zoom Around the World, Spirit Assembly Helpers) and worked across programs, schools, and districts to bring virtual programming to meet the needs of our partners.
- 32 Williams students worked in programs
- 10 Williams student volunteers
- 833 hours worked
Twenty-six years ago, Williams College started its partnership with Williamstown Elementary School with the introduction of the Science Fellows Program – designed to support elementary science education with college student teaching assistants. Initially, the program was funded as a Community Education Initiative by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. It is now an integral part of the Williams College/WES Partnership administered by the College’s Center for Learning in Action. Science learning at WES is supported at all the grade levels but is intensively provided at K, 1st and 2nd grades. In these three grades Williams College Science Fellows and the Outreach Coordinator actually co-teach lessons with classroom teachers on a weekly basis. Lessons are designed to meet the required State Standards for Learning in Science. Additional support is provided to grades 3-6 by the Outreach Coordinator, who purchases special materials for activities and occasionally assists with upper-grade lessons. During 2020-2021 Williams Science Fellows worked virtually with teacher to zoom into science lessons as well as assisting remotely in one-on-one and group activities in science.
Read Aloud Program
In 2020-2021 during the pandemic year, Williams students had to get creative to reach our Williamstown partners at WES! Because there were no opportunities for in person learning, Williams students created the Read Aloud Program! These stories were read by volunteer Williams students and organized by two paid student leaders. They read dozens of age appropriate books to students online, on topics like generosity, honesty, courage and resilience for use by teachers in the classroom and parents at home. These stories are available on the Resources section of this website!
The Classroom Helpers are an essential part of the WES-Williams Partnership. In previous years, Williams students were hired into these roles and paired with a WES teacher. This year, we needed to get creative with these roles to meet the needs of a completely virtual reality. Of important note were the students who worked on the virtual academic support Zoom sessions, which met a critical and emergent need of WES admins and teachers. Classroom Helpers also worked with assigned teachers via Zoom–reading to WES students, working with small groups and one-on-one, supporting grading, and helping teachers with tech needs. Several Classroom Helpers also supported WES specialists, including Rebecca Leonard and Allison Foehl with tech, as well as with Betsy Reali as Spirit Assembly Helpers. We learned many lessons from this virtual year, and look forward to continuing several of these new roles.
One of the signature and longest-running volunteer programs of the WES-Williams Partnership, the Big Sibs program is truly beloved by students, teachers, and staff. This opportunity matches a Williams College student with a WES student in a Big Sib/Little Sib relationship. WES students are recommended to the program by the WES social worker and teachers, and matches are coordinated by CLiA staff and the WES assistant principal. Paired students meet during the school day, typically during lunch and recess. In this pandemic year, the one pair that was able to meet utilized Zoom to continue their relationship. This program is an opportunity to form a deeper relationship, to mentor WES students in need of extra support, and to provide a fun, grounding outlet for those students. This year, we had a roster of 10 Williams Big Sib volunteers, 2 of whom were specifically recruited to work with Spanish-speaking Little Sibs new to the community. While most of our pairs were unable to meet this year due to the challenges presented by the pandemic, we are looking forward to relaunching the program for the 2021-22 school year.
Zoom Around the World
Zoom Around the World was a CLiA pilot program this year, successfully modeling opportunities for cross-school partnerships. Built on a desire to intentionally support global and intercultural learning, Zoom Around the World features Williams College international students presenting on their home countries and cultures for local school-aged students. The presentations featured topics including holidays, foods, landscape, traditions, animals and agriculture, and language for the youngest learners; it was expanded to include topics around politics, governance, and current events for older students. This year, asynchronous and synchronous presentations were developed utilizing Zoom, and a highlight were the joint WES-LES virtual assemblies in the Spring semester.