My Jumpstart Journey

by Nicole Reynolds

Nicole Reynolds is a Jumpstart Corps member from San Francisco State University.

Before I joined Jumpstart, I had some experience working with children through various volunteer activities during high school. As a freshman in college I began missing the bonds I had made with my previous students and was anxious to find a job that allowed me to, once again, work with kids. I submitted my application to Jumpstart and was called in for an interview with one of the site managers a week later. I felt great about my interview but I learned that Jumpstart was a work-study program job that I did not qualify for.

I joined Jumpstart and decided that I would continue to look for another job in order to make additional money. I met with my team leader a week before my first session and she broke everything down for me, introduced me to my new team, and told me about the child that I would be partnered with. My first few months at Jumpstart were extremely challenging, but my team had a strong bond that allowed us to overcome the challenges that we faced.

Three months after beginning Jumpstart, I got a job – I was so excited. However, I couldn鈥檛 imagine quitting Jumpstart. By the time spring semester came around, I was managing 15 units at school, a part-time job, volunteering with Jumpstart, and a staff position for a club on campus.

Spring semester, I had three preschoolers in my Jumpstart group. Each of them had conflicting personalities, which challenged me even more. Every little detail determined how the session would go, so I had to be organized and prepared for anything that came my way. I chose their seating assignments and made a talking stick for the children to take turns sharing in order to help the children stay focused.

By the end of the school year, I had an amazing relationship with the classroom I worked in and I even found time to go to visit my students on non-Jumpstart days. Jumpstart was an incredibly rewarding experience for me and I wouldn鈥檛 change it for anything.

Below are 5 tips that I have for new Corps members kicking off their Jumpstart school year!

Make sure you are ready to commit.
Get to know your team and collaborate with them.
Manage your time wisely.
Come up with your own ideas that will allow session to go smoothly.
Stay on top of your hours and go to the Jumpstart trainings.

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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