Hands Down, Students Love AmeriCorps


I’d like to describe the impact of my service through a display my students helped me to create for my school. Outside every teacher’s classroom is a long row of cork board to display student’s work of that teacher’s choice. Because I work with every grade level in the school as part of my AmeriCorps service, at first I was puzzled with what I might use for my display area. I wanted everyone to also be able to see all the great things that my learners were working on and accomplishing, but I kept asking myself how I could possibly display all seven grade levels. I worked with more than 80 learners just in the first quarter!

Finally, I decided I wanted to use it as a space where my learners could share their own ideas about the impact they feel having an AmeriCorps teacher has had on them. What this display ultimately turned in to is more than I could have imagined. My display now reads “With heart and helping hands, a child can do anything!” and is surrounded by more than 100 colorful handprints, each a handprint of one of the students that I’ve had a direct impact on. To make it even better, on each handprint there is a quote from each of the students that provides a little glimpse of what having an AmeriCorps teacher has meant to them. I have handprints of all sizes, representing students from every grade level.

Hands read “I love reading now!” from young kindergarten learners to something as sophisticated as “I enjoy having AmeriCorps because we get to challenge ourselves with fun projects while spending time with friends.” Some of my other personal favorites read “Miss Oswald helps me understand math better,” “I get to learn new things that I haven’t learned before,” and finally, “I love coming here because the teacher is crazy” (reflecting my sheer enthusiastic love-of-learning personality that I am constantly trying to transfer to my learners).

“Seeing all of these wonderful responses from the students I work with has made me realize something profound. The impact of my service is and always will be a reflection of the impact that I have on my learners. It truly says it all.”
Laura Oswald, AmeriCorps Member
Altoona Area School District
Altoona, Pennsylvania