Gardner teaches children to grow
May 7, 1999
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.
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
"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
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
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
"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
However, Gardner's social involvement has its price. "She is always
late to class," said Roberts about the punctuality of her student.