A program that enables high school students around the world to gain real life experience in the fields they hope to enter as adults is bringing a total of 32 high school students from across the country to Monarch Elementary School this summer.
For the past week, high school students from as far away as New York and California have been assisting in reading and other programs at Monarch Elementary School including the Save the Children program. The students are at Monarch Elementary as part of the “Rustic Pathways” program. Rustic Pathways Program Manager Lauren Anderson said the program gives participating students the opportunity to gain experience in the fields they hope to work in as adults. She said the high school students who are working or who will be working soon at Monarch Elementary are interested in becoming educators.
“It’s an organization that provides summer community services and travel opportunities for high school age students,” Anderson said. “They come from California, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chicago, Florida, and Maryland. It is open to high school students of any age. The select and pay for a program of their choice in exchange for the learning experience. The students that chose to come here are interested in education, in teaching and working with children. They are passionate about volunteering in the United States.”
Anderson said approximately 3,000 high school students are participating in Rustic Pathways programs in a number of countries around the world including Thailand, Peru, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. In Union, the Rustic Pathways students are assisting with the Save the Children summer program which Monarch Elementary School Principal Anita Maness said provides educational and related services in high poverty areas or communities that have fallen victim to catastrophe such as New Orleans where the program helped get the schools going again after Hurricane Katrina.
Monarch and Foster Park Elementary School are the only schools in Union County with the Save the Children program. This year is Monarch’s sixth with the program and Foster Park’s fifth. Approximately 86 children in grades K-4 from both schools are enrolled in the program which is being held at Monarch.
This is the second year that Rustic Pathways students have worked with the Save the Children program in Union County and Anderson said it was the opportunity to do so that led the students to choose to come here.
“Many of them have heard of Save the Children,” Anderson said. “They were drawn to the idea of with Save the Children in a hands on environment.”
The Rustic Pathways students currently at Monarch will be there for two weeks, and Maness said they are helping with all the components of the program including assisting the elementary school students enrolled with their reading as well as computer assignments. They are also helping with the physical activities portion of the program and the nutritional section which teaches students how to eat healthy.
Maness said the first 16 Rustic Pathways students at Monarch are here for a two week period which will come to an end later this week. She said they will be succeeded by another 16 who will also spend two weeks at the school working with the students enrolled in Save the Children.
“They are helping our students with reading, they are helping with Save the Children,” Maness said. “We’re just fortunate to have them.”