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Howard University Students Spend Spring Break Mentoring Toomer and Hope-Hill Students

Nearly 100 Howard University students opted to spend their Spring Break week helping others here in Atlanta.

Nearly 100 Howard University students decided to travel from their Washington D.C. campus to Atlanta to celebrate their Spring Break in an "alternative" fashion.

These students actually opted to mentor elementary children at Toomer Elementary School in Kirkwood and Hope-Hill Elementary School in Old Fourth Ward rather than go on a typical Spring Break vacation.

Jordan Duckens, a reporter for Howard University News Service, wrote an article about the students' experiences on Alternative Spring Break this past week and shared a portion with East Atlanta Patch readers.

After a brief orientation and lunch, Gooden was introduced to her first student of the day and she began her 45-minute tutoring session.  She had been assigned as a reading tutor for six students, three boys and three girls.

“I feel like I got a good taste of a variety of personalities with the kids,” Gooden said as the bus left Hope-Hill Monday afternoon.  “I had some who were wilder, some who were more timid, some who were interested and some who were not. I had to adjust the way I was helping them to fit their individual personalities.”

Her first group of girls was “rowdy,” which made teaching “challenging,” she said. On the other hand, she tutored a boy who was very timid and would barely interact with her.

“It was hard to know if he understood what was going on or if he was just saying he did so he could go back to what he was doing before,” Gooden said.
Despite the challenges she faced during her first day, Gooden was looking forward to what the rest of the week held. She had been awaiting the opportunity to be a part of ASB before she even got her letter of acceptance to Howard.

The college students that took part in the Alternative Spring Break program were from all walks of life, are pursuing different careers, and were from a range of grade levels.

Alison Jackson told Patch that the children of Toomer Elementary were excited for the arrival of the Howard University students, saying, "last year, the kids loved them so much they cried when they left. It was so cute."

Paula Morris, a media specialist at Hope-Hill, had fun watching the young children interact with the college students during learning sessions and posted a number of photos on Twitter during the week of Howard's visit.

Donavon Murphy, a Howard jurnior stationed at Hope-Hill, told Howard News Service that "he wanted to work in Atlanta because he liked the program’s focus on youth development.

"The student population at Hope-Hill Elementary is 95 percent African American and five percent Hispanic." Murphy said. “We get to inspire them to be great people and to do great things.”

An astounding 93 percent of students at Hope-Hill live below the poverty line.

According to Duckens' article, Ebony Gamble, the volunteer coordinator at Hope-Hill, spoke to the Atlanta participants and told the students how their mentoring in the past has helped her students’ performance on mandatory statewide achievement tests.

As Friday came to a close, the Howard students said their final goodbyes, and would soon have to board a bus for the long 12-hour ride home.

A Spring Break to remember.

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