Focusing on Empatía!
Kyla Reeves (she/her) is a sophomore political science major at UC Berkeley. She sought out volunteer opportunities with Berkeley Schools Volunteers to get some time in the classroom because she ultimately wants to be an elementary school teacher. She ultimately landed in Andrea Calderon’s 1st grade Two Way Immersion classroom at Sylvia Mendez Elementary, where her experience has been nothing short of wonderful. Two Way Immersion is a research-based educational program that brings native English-speaking and native Spanish-speaking students together at Sylvia Mendez. In the Two-Way Immersion model, a second language is acquired while maintaining the child’s first language.
Kyla wasn’t sure what to expect in a Two Way Immersion classroom but knew that her skills as a Spanish speaker, a college student, and someone with experience working with kids would be valuable! During her two hours in Maestra Andrea’s classroom, she supports math, writing, and circulo comunitario that are taught only in Spanish. Circulo comunitario is a special circle time where students explore social emotional topics such as empatía (empathy). Meeting social emotional needs is a big part of her role as a volunteer, from just sitting with students and sharing pieces of her family and college life, to supporting students through cool-down time.
Kyla loves her classroom and the Sylvia Mendez community. She loves seeing students support each other when they get stuck in their translations. The silly and joyful moments are the highlights of her day, like when a student randomly stood up to do a little dance during math singing “¡Matemáticas es mi momento favorito del día! (math is my favorite time of the day!)” These occurrences are frequent, as confirmed by Maestra Andrea herself: “Kyla is a warm and caring presence in our classroom. This cohort of mega wiggly first graders are little tornadoes full of energy and she hangs in there like a natural. Muy agradecida!”
The future is bright for Kyla. She anticipates teaching every grade level as a teacher because she loves the differences in age groups. What she likes about first graders, for example, is that they are full of wonder and not afraid to ask big questions. We appreciate you, Kyla! Thank you for your energy, joy, and kindness!