Stronger Communities, Stronger Schools is a Wellesley College student led organization that reaches out to the larger Boston community, by volunteering at schools and community organizations. SCSS was founded by Amanda Wyatt, a Wellesley College graduate who started the program after taking Professor Soo Hong’s Urban Education class. SCSS is comprised of 21 volunteers who support Blackstone teachers in classrooms 3 days a week and provide one on one tutoring and homework help at St. Stephen’s 3 days a week. Here is a short interview with SCSS President, Loren Cahill.
What Inspired you to take on a leadership role with Stronger Communities, Stronger Schools?
To be honest…Wellesley is very white washed, it is a bubble of wealth and ignorance to the outside world. It was hard for me to be a freshman, because I didn’t find my group right away. I joined SCSS to spend time in a community that I was familiar and comfortable with. SCSS does really important work with St. Stephen’s and at the Blackstone, especially as a turnaround school. There is a need for dedicated volunteers. SCSS brings together people like myself who want to give back in the best way possible and be engaged in the larger Boston community.
How has St. Stephen’s and the Blackstone School enhanced your learnings from Professor Soo Hong’s Urban Education class?
It is one thing to learn something in theory, it is an entirely another thing to put those learnings into practice. In Prof. Hong’s class we learned all about the politics of public schools, working at the Blackstone has given me a firsthand perspective of how that bureaucracy works. We saw it first hand when SCSS was almost shut down. Also seeing elementary school education from an older standpoint as a college student, really showed me what it takes to be a good teacher. We also learned in class about community partners and I saw firsthand all of the work St. Stephen’s has done to build trust with the Blackstone administrative team.
What is your favorite volunteer moment at St. Stephen’s?
It was my first year and the kids were putting on a talent show. I was working with Genesis and had helped her memorize all of these dance moves. She got up on stage and forgot all of the dance moves and burst into tears and ran off the floor. I was talking to her in back and said “You got this.” Christina, the after school director at the time, let her go back on after and she did the whole dance! I talked to Christina after and it was the first time that I felt my presence there really mattered. It was awesome to encourage Genesis to go back on and have her believe me.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
St. Stephen’s is phenomenal, I love what you do for the community, I love being a part of it.
Interviewed and posted by Meg McDermott, Blackstone Partnership Community Organizer