By Claire Daniels
After a long and restful break filled with gift-giving, family dinners, and lots of laughter, the halls of Thunder Valley K-8 are once again bustling with the activities that typically follow a new semester of school–the sound of lockers slamming, groups of friends chatting about their winter breaks, and teachers corralling their students back to their desks to resume learning. Fifth-grade Dreamer Scholars are not only back to their regular school days, but also the “I Have A Dream” Foundation’s daily after-school programming, a supplemental academic and
social-emotional curriculum that provides students from low-income families with tools and resources for success.
The Carbon Valley Dreamer Class is one of many Dreamer Scholar classes, spread across Boulder and Weld Counties. All enrolled students are from low-income communities, and many will be the first in their families to attend a four-year college, making them academic trailblazers in their households. The class Program Director, Aurora Santos, started with the class in 2015, and has gotten to know the Dreamer Scholars and their families well. Parents of Dreamer Scholars are involved in the program as well, participating in quarterly planning meetings and even forming their own small committee, eager to ensure the best for their children, and to watch them thrive in new situations and grow from their experiences.
A newly assembled team of volunteers–some familiar faces, some brand new–will work with the fifth-graders from January through June 2019, helping with homework and enjoying recess, before transitioning into summer school. “I Have A Dream” volunteers don’t only provide students with their time each week–they bring a wealth of life experience, skills, and exposure to diverse careers that captivate the students and expand their horizons beyond the walls of Thunder Valley. One volunteer, Fely, is a senior at the University of Northern Colorado, and will soon graduate with her bachelor’s degree in Human Services. Fely sees the Dreamer Scholars every Monday, listening to them read aloud from challenging books, and joining in intense games of tetherball at recess. She told program staff, “My favorite part about working with the kids is getting to know who they are; their unique interests, and their passions and interests.”
As they grow older, the ten- and eleven-year-olds have become even more fascinated with adults from all walks of life, and are already considering the options for their future college degrees. Plenty of students are inspired by their teachers and dream of becoming educators themselves, while others are intrigued by other subjects, from medical science to architectural design, law enforcement or politics. One student, Jocelyn, loves learning about outer space, and dreams of working for NASA as an astronaut. Like Jocelyn, every Dreamer Scholar has thought about how to incorporate their current passions and talents into a future career.
By Claire Daniels