Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 7:47 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


Partners in Education Volunteer Spotlight: Kara Kerstiens

Recent UCSB graduate finds niche and experience while tutoring students at Franklin School

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers. This article is sponsored by McGowan Guntermann, a Partners in Education President’s Council member.]

As a recent graduate of UCSB, Kara Kerstiens was faced with the daunting task of starting her career. She knew she wanted to become a school counselor but she was not sure which age group or which school setting she would be most comfortable with.

During this period of uncertainty, Kerstiens turned to the Santa Barbara Partners in Education Volunteer Recruitment & Coordination program for the opportunity to volunteer in different schools and to get a feel for which setting most suited her.

Kerstiens’ quest for experience brought her to Franklin Elementary School on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside, where she volunteers, focusing especially on daily reading tutorials with first-grade students.

“I go through all of the students and take three aside at a time and read a small story with them, having them take turns individually reading a page,” Kerstiens explained. “I help them sound out and pronounce certain words that they have difficulty reading.

“It has been so encouraging to see how much the students have improved in their reading skills over the course of time I have been working with them.”

Partners in Education enabled Kerstiens to find her niche. An avid believer in the importance of education, she said she hopes to make a difference in her students’ lives through volunteering, and to encourage others to share their time and knowledge with the community.

“Education is extremely important to me personally, but it is also important to everyone in some way or another,” she said. “The quality of our youths’ education today affects everyone’s futures, and I really believe that people should put a greater emphasis on supporting its development.

“I hope that through my volunteering in this particular classroom, the students’ reading skills and levels improve. I try to be very positive and encouraging. I want to make reading fun for them!”

Kerstiens has developed methods of communication through volunteering that will help her in her future career. For example, she has found that positive reinforcement is usually the best tool when working with shy students.

“It is encouraging to see some of the students get excited to read with me,” she said. “I also have found that when one of them does not want to read, encouragement and reminding them of what a great reader they are can instantly make them want to participate.”

Kerstiens’ positive experience with volunteering leads her to encourage others to get involved in volunteering and giving back to the community.

“Partners in Education has a variety of opportunities that range from reading with students to giving speeches about one’s career,” she said. “There are many ways that one can use their skills to help the school systems, even on a small level that works with busy schedules.”

For Kerstiens, her experience has been inspiring. She will continue with her volunteer work while pursuing her career as a school counselor with a little more experience than before.

“Volunteering through Partners in Education has helped me to see that I really do desire to become a school counselor,” she said. “I want to be able to interact with children or young adults and to help guide them and be as beneficial to their education as I can.

“I always feel so great after volunteering with young students because they can be so positive and so uplifting. It has been very rewarding to volunteer and I hope to continue to do more volunteer opportunities with Partners in Education.”

                                                                  •        •        •

» Click here for more information on Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

» Click here for more information on how to become a President’s Council member or contact Michelle Magnusson, development and membership director, at 805.964.4710 x4417 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

» Connect with Partners in Education on Facebook.

— 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.

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