Gardner teaches children to grow

Campus Times
May 7, 1999


photo by Matt Wright

Joy Gardner, a freshman, takes advantage of the mandatory Service Learning class requirement and uses it to explore her interest in teaching elementary school. Every Wednesday, Gardner works as a teachers' aid for a first grade class at Holy Name of Mary in San Dimas. The class requires 25 hours of community service, but Gardner has exceeded the mandatory time and says she will finish out the school year with the children.

by Andreas Hahn
Staff Writer

What are typical University of La Verne students doing on a Wednesday morning during the semester? Most are sleeping.

Joy Gardner, a freshman diversified major, is an atypical ULV student. She gets up early every Wednesday morning to teach at the Holy Name of Mary elementary school on Bonita Avenue in San Dimas to fulfill her service learning requirements.

"I want to be an elementary school teacher, that's the reason why I chose to teach first grade," said Gardner, who is currently attending the "Tutoring K to 12 students" class of instructor Debbie Roberts.

Gardner does not look at the class as a burdensome general education requirement but as a chance. "A lot of people complain about it," said she, "but I feel fulfilled. I know I played an active role."

This feeling is also shared by Roberts, who thinks that Gardner takes the learning experience seriously. "She is a person with a good attitude," said Roberts about her student's skill to deal with elementary school children.

"People go too much through life with only serving themselves, now it is my turn to give a child a good experience," said Gardner.

Hence, she is helping the 6- to 7 year-olds with their creative writing. "I go through the stories and work with them on their writing style."

The purpose of service learning classes is to implement the University mission statement. Moreover, the classes "make an intentional effort to utilize the community service experience as a learning resource."

This semester, the University is offering six service learning classes, which cover different social topics. Students in Robert's class have the opportunity to work either in a elementary or a high school.

Gardner is supposed to volunteer a total of 25 hours at the school. She already fulfilled this requirement but does not want to quit her engagement before the end of the semester.

Gardner, who attended public schools, also wants to use her engagement in the private elementary school to see whether she later prefers to work for a public or a private institution.

"I want to see what a private school is like. I like it, I know that money is not there but that's not important for me," she said with regard to the lower teacher salaries at private schools.

"I like the fact that you can teach religion," she said about the curriculum at the Catholic Holy Name of Mary elementary school.

Gardner, who is Catholic, considers herself to be religious.

There is a total of 34 children enrolled in the class Gardner is teaching.

"I feel really accepted," said the 19-year-old about the reaction of the children to her presence. "They think I am 40 years old and married."

Gardner emphasized that it is also very important how the volunteer is introduced by the regular teacher. "The teacher introduced me fabulously and my background on children," she said.

Before she started to work in the elementary school, Gardner helped out in the Child Development Center on the Fairplex ground. She worked in day care for 2 to 2-1/2 year olds for an average of 20-25 hours a week.

"It's a lot of hard work, it's harder than working in the classroom," said Gardner about her experiences. However, she said that she learned a lot and had good experiences. "I enjoy being with children all the time."

Besides her involvement in the Child Development Center and the elementary school, Gardner is active socially.

During her high school time, she tutored physically disabled people, worked on the yearbook staff, was a member of the Associated Student Body and played volleyball and softball in the teams.

Moreover, she likes travelling and went on a tour to the British Isles last year. "I want to experience different cultures," said Gardner about her hobby. "I have never grasped the concept of another country because I had never been out of the country."

While Gardner was scared about London, where people begged her for money, she enjoyed Scotland very much. "It was the first experience on my own. It [Europe] is so different."

Still, Gardner, who is from the high dessert, likes to return home to family and friends. "I see them almost every weekend," she said.

Gardner is also involved at the University, where she is a member of Sigma Kappa sorority. Her initiation was last Sunday.

"I'm very excited," said Gardner about her participation in the organization, "I want to be an active member of the sorority."

By attending ULV and becoming a member of Sigma Kappa, Gardner followed the footsteps of her sister Andrea, who graduated last year and is in the same sorority.

"She had such a good experience, so I figured it'll be the same," said Gardner regarding her decision to study at the same university like her sister.

However, Gardner's social involvement has its price. "She is always late to class," said Roberts about the punctuality of her student.