I have been volunteering at SMART since 1997. All of my experience except for the first year has been at the same school. What a delight that has been!
The first year, the program was so young. We were scrambling for space. The first time I read, we all met at the end of a hallway. Each year was a little different. There were a lot of times where we would have to sit on chairs along the wall. Then we would move to the library or in offices. Sometimes when we didn’t have space, we would go outside and sit on the benches. Of course we had to be super careful about safety, and be sure to not read too far away from the school. When we read outside, if it was nice out, the children would have such a difficult time focusing!
The last few years, we have actually had some decent space to read. There has always been the threat of SMART not having enough funding, and I would wonder if the organization will be around the following year. It has always been saved. It is so wonderful.
The first year I read, one of my children obviously had some attention difficulties. He was so cute. He didn’t want to sit and I could never seem to capture him. I tried to get him to sit on the floor, in a chair, in the hallway, in an office, and in a cafeteria, but he kept running off! He eventually snuck out a door and went to the playground. I would say to him “Hey – don’t you want to read?!” Sometimes, I spent the whole time trying to get him to sit with me, rather than actually reading to him!
The kids themselves, especially the kindergarteners, are so shy at the beginning of the year. But by the end of the year, they are your best buds. As they become more comfortable toward the end of the year, I would go to meet them and their faces lit up! They’d shout “It’s time for SMART!” It’s so sweet. It is wonderful to watch the children develop and become more familiar and excited about the program.