The GAP Impact - Olivia Gwaltney
For the last two years, volunteer Olivia Gwaltney has made a huge impact on our organization. She is currently in her junior year at Mizzou studying Elementary Education. She first heard about and became interested in the organization in her freshman orientation class. She reached out to the organization and started working with Grade A Plus in October 2020.
While her role with the organization started out small, it quickly grew and she is currently a student leader within the tutoring program. In this capacity, she creates and gathers materials for students and volunteers to use during tutoring sessions and assists in administrative tasks for the organization as well.
In her own words:
“Volunteering with the Grade A Plus program was my first experience in a career outside of my comfort zone. Through this program, I have developed a better understanding of leadership and education. It has helped me to grow as an individual, a leader, and a future educator.
This program gave me the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students and experience diversity on a new level. Many factors play a role in the learning process, including race, religion, language, socioeconomics, gender, family structure, and student abilities. These all have the potential to affect the ways in which students learn. Educators must take purposeful measures in their delivery to recognize the differences of each student. While working with students of different races, ethnicities, English fluency, and learning ability I have encouraged them to keep pushing because improvement is always possible.
I learned to empower, encourage, and build relationships with students. Working with students that have different ways of learning, allows me to design engaging activities customized to the specific learning styles of each students. This program has taught me how to manage demanding situations with confidence and recognize when I should ask for assistance. I have become a leader through a virtual world and gained the strength to empower and lead future generations in their education.
My experience with this program has allowed me to see how unique everyone truly is. Each student that I have grown to know, and love has left an impression on me as a person and as an educator. They have given me a taste of who they are and where they come from, and they have used their differences to succeed in their own education. I have grown in my knowledge and understanding of diversity and come to believe that diversity is what can make a change in our world.
I have experienced, managed, and overcome situations which most educators do not experience before entering their own classroom. The Grade A Plus program helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses and has fostered a deeper love and appreciate for the field of education.”