August 24, 2010
Paula Cockerham earned Cs and Ds in her high school classes until her biology teacher pulled her aside and said, “You’re smarter than this.”
Cockerham began spending more time on homework and studying harder, transforming herself into an A student. Now, she works at The Boeing Co. as an environmental chemist.
“It just took having someone tell you, ‘You can do this’, and ‘I believe you can do this,’” she said.
In 2006, Cockerham decided to return the favor to Issaquah’s students. She registered with Volunteers Of Issaquah Changing Education — more commonly known as VOICE — and began mentoring high school students in physical science.
Cockerham is one of VOICE’s 155 mentors, and Director Susan Gierke said she hopes to raise membership to 200 volunteers this year. Read more
February 23, 2010
Youth activism can lead to a better world
Teens today are changing the world one day and one life at a time and Issaquah youths are joining the movement.
Volunteering by 16- to 19-year-olds has more than doubled since 1989, from 13.4 percent to 28.4 percent, according to a 2007 report from The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that oversees service programs in the U.S. Volunteering by that age group is also 36 percent higher than it was in 1974, when it was 20.9 percent. Today, 8.2 million people ages 16-24 volunteer their time.
Mitchell Byron, a Liberty High School alumni who volunteered for Athletes for Kids and is deaf, is one of them.
“I want to give back to a community that has given so much to me,” he said.
Students are learning philanthropy at home; through community organizations, like Kiwanis and Rotary clubs; in children’s leadership groups; and in school, according to the agency’s reports.
Locally, there is an Issaquah School Board policy dedicated to ensuring students learn philanthropy before they graduate, said Superintendent Steve Rasmussen.
“Globally, we want kids to know that we’re in a world that they can impact, personally and in larger groups,” he said. “I want them to know what they do impacts the rest of the world, and it is incumbent upon them to be much wiser than my generation.”
Students in Issaquah have taken that message to heart, not just for their grades, but also in hopes of leaving their world better.
“We have to take action to see the outcome that we want,” said Lindsay Baringer, a senior at Issaquah High School who volunteers with the Issaquah Schools Foundation. “If you help out, the world will be a nicer place to live.”
September 15, 2009
If you walk through the halls of almost any school in the Issaquah School District this year, you might see your neighbor working with a student on his or her math homework, or helping him or her write a book report.
You might wonder why the student is not in class during the school day, but he or she is just getting a little extra help from a mentor with the VOICE program.
With funding from the Issaquah Schools Foundation and the school district, Volunteers of Issaquah Changing Education is entering its seventh year of helping struggling students get back on track.
“It’s one of the most rewarding things anyone can do,” said Wendie Rosenberg, a mentor at Cascade Ridge Elementary School. “Parents love it, because it’s one-on-one time with their kids.” Read more