My name is Emma Woodcock and I am a senior government major at F&M. This school year I have had the opportunity to serve as the community school intern at Washington Elementary school. This internship has provided me a wider perspective of the Lancaster Community and the inequality present that we are not exposed to on F&M’s campus. Washington Elementary is a community school, which means that it provides additional noneducational services and programs to which students may not otherwise have access, through partnerships with local nonprofits including Lancaster General Health, Rotary International, and the Boys and Girls Club.
Washington has opened my eyes to the levels of poverty present in the city of Lancaster that I was unaware of previously. In September, the Franklin and Marshall College Center for Opinion Research released a study detailing the increase in wealth inequality in our city, yet the statistics do not do justice in demonstrating the impact poverty has on a community. Poverty limits students’ access to basic resources, such as a secure supply of food or basic medical care, that negatively impacts a child’s ability to focus and succeed in the classroom. Washington Elementary has provided me with the opportunity to work not only in the classroom with children, but also with parents to provide services that ensure the students come to school everyday ready to learn.
At Washington, I work with the Power Packs Program, an emergency food assistance supplement that provides groceries to families in need over the weekend, KinderSee, an ophthalmology program provided through a partnership with a local eyedoctor, and the uniform bank, collecting, organizing, and distributing uniforms to students who need them. I also work with the Boys and Girls Club Extended Day Program, which provides enrichment clubs, mentorship, and supper to students, as well as with the Washington Unity Team, an extremely dedicated group of teachers and administrators within the school who facilitate and organize community enrichment events such as monthly Spark days and family activity nights.
This may sound cheesy, but every day I spend at Washington amazes me. The students are motivated children who preserve regardless of their family’s economic background. They deserve the opportunity to succeed and Washington provides them with the ability to do so. Washington has given me the opportunity to witness firsthand the positive impact education has on children, and the dedication required of the teachers and staff to ensure this goal. They have motivated me to continue this effort in my own life by becoming an educator.
My F&M works internship undoubtedly solidified my interest in urban education and provided me with the experience necessary to be qualified for the amazing opportunities I am pursuing next year as a postgraduate. I definitely drew on my experiences at Washington during my interview process for almost everything, so be sure to remember your experiences for futures reference. A year ago if you had told me I'd be getting my Masters in education I would have thought you were crazy, so I do really owe my interest in the field and success to the F&M works program.
I originally applied to F&M works to break my F&M bubble but it's been an entirely rewarding experience and I never imagined it would have impacted me in this way. Nothing puts the perceived stress of being a college student in perspective more than tutoring my second and third grade students after school in math, playing tag with them on the playground, or their excitement during our science enrichment club experiments, as seeing their determination and growth as students and as people, and appreciating the impact I have made on their lives. No college house activity, sorority philanthropy event, or classroom lecture has been as rewarding as the excitement on my student’s faces when they see me at After School Program, the solace after wiping away little tears, or the swarm of hugs I receive in the hallway.
My time at Washington has changed my F&M experience, exposed me to the greater Lancaster community, and has given my career at F&M a purpose deeper than simply receiving a college education. It’s given me the ability to practice what I learn in the classroom, to make a difference in the lives of others, and for that I want to thank the Ware Institute, Adriana, and my supervisor Arelis for that opportunity.