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Skills USA Middle School Students conduct Community Service Project with Head Start Students at Manual High School

Skills USA color pic

Sitting: Michelle Estrada, Zulema Ruiz, and Ximena Silva-Hinojose. Standing: Sandra Burke and Charles Miner

Seventh and Eighth grade students enrolled in Middle School Skills USA program at Manual Academy conducted a Community Service Literacy project with 3-5 year old early childhood children enrolled in the Head Start program at Manual High School. The project which took place on January 30, 2019 with 7th grade and February 20th, with 8th grade was conducted as a component of the SkillUSA framework which drives the SkillsUSA curriculum.

Carver Community Center with funding from the Heart of Illinois United Way have partnered at Manual for the past two years to provide a career education program for 7th and 8th grade students designed to teach personal , workplace and technical skills in preparation for the workforce and college. Sandra Burke, Coordinator for Middle School Skills USA and Charles Miner, Facilitator, who have been working with the group for two years at Manual Academy are hopeful that Skills USA can continue at Manual High School with a high school chapter next year as well as at other middle schools for 7th and 8th grade students. The Carver Center Skills USA program is currently one of only 6 middle school programs in the State of Illinois.

The curriculum encourages participation in leadership activities and Community Service. This year the students decided to focus on literacy by reading to younger students

“Look it’s My Book” partnered with the middle school and donated 40 developmentally appropriate books for the Head Start Students to take home.

Mrs. Karen Thomas, The Site Director for the Manual High School Program did a presentation to the 7th and 8th grade students about the importance of being a good reader and how reading is essential to success in the workplace. She also taught them key vocabulary words which they in turn taught the younger children… words such as “author,” “illustrator,” and “title” were defined for the young students.

The older students learned that they could model enthusiasm for reading to the younger students who will be our future leaders. The younger students saw the older children as positive role models. As one 8th grade student wrote, “Reading to kids from Manual’s Head Start program was important to us because we attend a school in a very low-income neighborhood and society thinks of us as the “bad” kids because of where we live. We want people to know that even though we are from ‘the hood’, that we, and these young children, have a heart, potential, and a future just like anyone else. “

Mrs. Thomas has indicated that she was very impressed with the middle school students and was happy that the students had the opportunity to communicate with each other in the building. She has invited the students to volunteer in her classrooms at any time.

The 8th grade students decided to submit the Literacy project into the State-wide SkillsUSA competitions taking place April 11th-13th in Springfield. It will be a first for Manual High School to participate in competitions on the Middle School level.