As I made the left onto Ivy Street in Newark, I could see the three-story concrete building looming in the distance. It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in early Fall. It felt just like many other gorgeous Fall afternoons I remember while growing up in this same neighborhood - more than 40 years ago.
This building used to be the High School when I was of elementary school age. Now it is one of several "neighborhood style" K-8 schools - and the location of my volunteer apprenticeship, Champions For the Common Canine. An apprenticeship is a series of 1½ hour sessions that volunteer "Citizen Teachers" lead for ten Tuesday (or Thursday) afternoons, during an "extended school day" with the Citizen Schools program. I chose to volunteer my time and effort to share my passion about the plight of "Roverpopulation" with ten middle schoolers (mostly 6th graders) who opted to be a part of my group. I work closely with Katie Marinello, a Citizen Schools Teacher, who helps me with logistics, classroom management, and just generally "keeps me in line" as I push to cram every moment chock full of information and activities!
These students are learning about the scope and seriousness of the problem, as well as ways to effectively communicate some solutions. With me, they've visited a local animal shelter, learned about dog fighting, tethering and puppy mills from Samantha Benson of Sit-Stay-Learn Dog Rescue and participated in activities illustrating the math behind pet overpopulation. They've also met and worked with Lola, practicing reward-based training methods taught to them by JennaLee Gallacchio of All Star Paws Dog Training Academy.
Now, with just three weeks left, each student is creating a persuasive poster to communicate one Roverpopulation-related issue plus a good solution. I can't wait to share their work with you in another post! For now, please enjoy some pictures of our adventures so far!