The WISS Saturday School Program was established 12 years ago with the goal of teaching English to local children whose parents cannot afford to send them to an English school or pay for an English tutor. It started with three children who lived on a farm behind the WISS compound. Over time, the word of our program has spread, with many parents enrolling their children to learn English. From our initial three students, we have grown to 118 this year.
Our volunteers are WISS students and WISS parents. It is not uncommon to see an entire family volunteer on a Saturday. There are many opportunities to become involved such as teaching, raising funds, preparing lesson plans or managing student safety.
We also run events for Christmas, team building for volunteers, graduation and end of year. This is when we present certificates to our volunteers and the students who have attended the program for two years. Secondary school students organize each event with the support of the parent volunteers. This year, our youngest volunteer is in Grade 1; she comes with her sister and both parents on Saturdays to teach.
Our Saturday School
In the classroom, the lesson is presented to the whole class by the team leader; students then separate into smaller groups to receive further coaching. If we have more volunteers, we arrange one-on-one learning, and when there are less, we manage with a ratio of one teacher to five students.
Responsibilities required to run the program, such as preparing lesson plans, worksheets, supplies and snacks along with classroom organization, are distributed among the student volunteers, so they feel accountable and valued. This allows the students to become a part of the community that makes a positive impact on someone else's life. By doing this, the students grow into responsible and mature individuals. For the local students receiving the lessons, they understand the meaning of giving. Following their graduation, many come back to Saturday school to become volunteers themselves.
[Images via Western International School Shanghai]
Roshiley Tilistyak is the Nursing Coordinator and Saturday School Coordinator at Western International School Shanghai. Tilistyak has worked at WISS for five years and she has managed the Saturday School Program for three years. She loves to create a sense of belonging and foster a meaningful relationship between WISS and the local Xujing community. Her program also instills a sense of responsibility to WISS student volunteers.