To better assist with student learning, Kyrene de la Estrella Elementary School has been seeking student volunteering from its neighboring middle school, Kyrene Akimel A-al, to help out during morning lessons.

Volunteers from Akimel spend an hour in the morning at Estrella to help students in areas such as reading, writing and mathematics.

Fifth-grade teacher Donna Morrissey said she’s had student volunteering in her class the past five years, and some were former students who would visit her before they had to go to school.

“Some of them would just want to visit in the morning because they had that time,” Morrissey said. “It really makes them continue to connect a family community.”

While students were visiting, Morrissey began noticing they had a 45-minute gap in between class and she began asking her former students if they would be interested in volunteering with classroom activities.

“It’s great because I’m able to give one-on-one attention to a kid who needs reading fluency and just needs someone to give them feedback,” she said. “After a while I would ask some of the students who struggled with me in fifth grade to come back and volunteer because if I knew that they were a struggling reader in fifth grade, if they volunteered to continue working on that fluency they would benefit.”

Eighth-grader Morgan Zittel began volunteering for Morrissey’s class two years ago and has been enjoying the experience ever since.

She remembers volunteers assisting with daily lessons when she attended Estrella and thought it would be a fun experience.

“I just loved it so much, so I kept continuing with it,” she added. “I like helping out the kids to get better in school, so they can be better and achieve more.”

Zittel, who volunteers five days a week, has no problem volunteering at Estrella an hour before she goes to school because she’s typically an early-morning person.

This will be Zittel’s last year volunteering at Estrella, but she plans on continuing with community service activities in the near future.

Some of the lessons Zittel assists with is a writer’s workshop activity, where students go into the hallway and write different words on a large piece of paper and read the words out load.

The process allows students to work on their penmanship, along with writing and sounding out specific words they might have trouble with.

Fifth-grader Scott Ebert believes the help he receives from the volunteers is beneficial towards his learning because each activity is different from the previous one, and has been showing signs of improvement in his school work.

“I like them being here. It helps a lot,” Ebert said.

The volunteering process also gives fifth-graders of Estrella the chance to make friends from Akimel, so they feel more at ease going to a new school.

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