[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers. This article is sponsored by MarBorg Industries, a Partners in Education President’s Council member.]
Four years ago, during her freshman orientation at UCSB, Sharon Wang was introduced to The M.U.S.I.C. Club. The organization is made up of musically gifted students who dedicate their afternoons to volunteering at local schools. Wang was immediately intrigued by the club’s motto of making a difference through music. By teaming up with Santa Barbara Partners in Education, Wang was able to begin her volunteer career at El Camino Elementary School in Goleta, sharing her passion for music with young children.
Wang fell in love with the El Camino community the moment she started her volunteer work.
“Volunteering has been one of the most rewarding experiences,” she said. “The teachers and the students at El Camino are so kind and warm. I really look forward to my time with them.”
Contrary to traditional teaching, Wang’s experience with music allows her to connect with students on a different level.
“Music is fun and kids like to have fun,” she said. “Most kids sit in a classroom all day and then go home and play video games, but music gives them the opportunity to have fun in a new and different way.
“As a music teacher, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing students experience music for the first time.”
Wang believes music can boost students’ self esteem, no matter their expertise.
“Music also gives students the opportunity to create something of their own, something that they can be proud of,” she explained. “In turn, this gives them confidence in not only their work as a musician, but in all aspects of their lives.”
Music is not the only thing Wang hopes to teach her students.
“I want to be an ambassador for higher education and I want the students I work with to realize the importance of school and learning,” she said. “I hope that the students I volunteer with develop a pure motivation to learn and grow.”
Wang stresses the importance and impact of volunteering now more than ever before.
“Budget cuts have eliminated many music programs from public schools and it is so important that students have access to those special skills,” she said.
“While school is very important, the classroom can only cover so much. Many fundamental life skills can be learned through music.”
Wang hopes to ultimately fill in the gaps in the school systems to provide productive, well-educated students who will eventually become the workforce we depend on for a healthy economy.
“Volunteering is so important right now,” she said. “Schools do not have the money or the resources to cover many fundamental programs that are essential to student growth.
“The impact that volunteering has made on me is, hopefully, as great as the impact I have made on my students.”
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— Michaela Ford is a senior at Santa Barbara High School and a Santa Barbara Partners in Education intern through the Partners Job Readiness & Internship Program. Partners in Education programs are administered under the Santa Barbara County Education Office.