Name: Nicole Morse
Host Site: The Learning Community
Where’d you go to school? Boston University
What do you want to be when you grow up? I think I’m still figuring this one out.
If you could have any super power, what would it be? It would be awesome if I could teleport. Never again would I sit in Providence traffic.
Story of Service
My first day at The Learning Community began with a traditional orientation and a tour of the building. As I walked into my office for the first time, I was greeted by my enthusiastic supervisor and a bare desk holding only a computer and a gigantic grey sustainability binder that has since become my best friend. Thanks to my Pre-Service Orientation, I was aware that I was a third-year VISTA serving with the after school program, I had read my Vista Assignment Description (VAD) more times than I could count, and I couldn’t imagine how I would possibly be able to complete everything in only a year. Regardless of my nerves, I was beyond excited to start.
Four months have gone by since I first walked into The Learning Community, a K-8 Charter School in Central Falls. Within days I had learned that The Learning Community is a nationally recognized public charter school with a focus on literacy and an expectation of leadership at every level. The Learning Community is Rhode Island’s highest performing school with its level of poverty. Students meet or exceed RI’s average NECAP scores in reading, math, and writing despite a poverty rate that is twice the state average.
The Extended Day Program at The Learning Community is consistent with the school’s focus on leadership after school hours. We provide a safe and engaging environment, from 3:00-5:30pm, where students are able to thrive in programs which focus on a variety of areas including health & wellness, arts, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math).
Just last week before a site visit from Rhode Island Campus Compact, I was able to take time with my supervisor (who I have learned is constantly as enthusiastic as she was the day I met her) and reflect on the first third of my service year. Sitting at my desk, now so covered with papers that I can barely see its surface, I pulled out my VAD for the first time since I began. My supervisor and I read aloud some of my main goals, including the implementation of STEM programs, aligning after school hours with the school day, and increasing capacity to include middle grades students. As we went through the list, I couldn’t believe how many things I could say I had already began working on, or even completed.
As a VISTA, there are many days when progress seems to be slow, as results don’t appear overnight. This can be beyond frustrating at times, as I am the type of person who wants to meet goals and see tangible results quickly. However, working to build a sustainable program, while also increasing capacity, means that results are not instantaneous. I have had to learn to stay focused on the long-term.
Many people view service with AmeriCorps as a sacrifice, with a modest living stipend and a yearlong commitment. However, I have quickly learned that this is not truly a sacrifice. The things I have gained, both personally and professionally, during the last four months are much more valuable