SOAR provides opportunity for you to gain experience through meaningful work. As a staff member, you will gain practical skills that you can apply to many future events, including: the workforce, volunteering, and family situations.
For future educators, you will gain classroom experience through instructing classes, discipline, classroom management skills and interaction with elementary aged students. For future social work or counseling majors, you will interact and engage with students from low-socioeconomic homes with a high cultural diversity. For anyone specializing in ESL or Spanish majors/minors, you will get daily opportunities to practice conversational Spanish with students and families. SOAR will definitely provide you with useful tools that you can apply to any workplace. Let’s hear from a few past SOAR workers about how their experience has shaped their career!
“My time spent working at SOAR not only helped me gain experience with a diverse set of children, but it also gave me a heart for diverse people. Working at SOAR taught me to value the differences and similarities among myself, my coworkers, and my students.
Being with these kids everyday helped me to understand their interests and hobbies. For instance, many of them LOVE soccer, Shopkins, or even smashball. In my current classroom, I use my knowledge of the interests of these students to help me plan my lessons. Incorporating their interests into writing prompts and/or math problems makes learning for them so much more fun and engaging! As an educator, it is my hope to meet the needs of all students. From this experience, I was given the opportunity to truly get to know the children and their families on a personal level. Having that opportunity allowed for me to establish relationships of respect and rapport, which enabled me to serve the children better. ”
-Hayden Alexander, 4th grade teacher in Rogers, AR
“Over the past year and a half of working at SOAR, I’ve learned so much about being flexible while teaching a class or leading instruction. No matter how prepared I am for a lesson there always seems to be a time where things change. There isn’t much time to gather my thoughts or create a new game plan, instead I am forced to make quick decisions and think on my feet.
Last year I was teaching an art class to students of all ages, and the plan was to paint on large sheets of paper to make a mural. About 20 minutes into the class, the beautiful idea I had for the mural had turned into brown unrecognizable paintings. But instead of being upset or frustrated that the lesson wasn't going as I had planned, I stopped and looked around at the students painting. Every students had paint covering their hands and they were smiling from ear to ear. EVERYONE was participating and EVERYONE was proud of the work they had done. How could I possibly be upset that the mural didn’t turn out as I had planned when instead my students were making memories? Even though my lesson didn't go as planned, the students were proud of their work and that was the ultimate goal.
Being flexible while teaching is something that my education professors talk about, but I would have never been completely comfortable or as understanding without my time at SOAR. Without my experiences at SOAR, I would not be confident in keeping a positive and encouraging classroom environment while also changing the lesson to best fit the needs of the children along the way.”
-Chloe Nanos, University of Arkansas MAT Program
“The SOAR after school program is hands down the best after school program I have experienced or heard of in the local school districts. I was fortunate to get to work at SOAR for about two and a half years, and it was the best way I could have spent my time. As a freshman entering college, I was determined to become an elementary teacher in the NWA area. Besides my classroom studies and field practicums with the University of Arkansas, working at SOAR had the most influence in my journey to become a teacher. It wasn't school, but it was daily interactions with elementary kids in a structured environment where I could gain more experience in teaching, disciplining, playing, and caring for kids...and that is exactly what happened.
Honestly, it was pretty tough sometimes. With each kid came new challenges. Some of the kids definitely brought more challenges than others, but through working at SOAR, I grew to care for every kid the same. I even found myself being drawn to the kids who required more discipline and attention rather than being exhausted by them. After my tenure with SOAR, I walked away feeling more prepared to manage a classroom of students. This being my first year as a teacher, I have realized how important and hard classroom management really is. I currently teach fourth grade at Bonnie Grimes Elementary in Rogers and I absolutely love it. Of course sometimes it is difficult and a little defeating, but I feel purpose in it. SOAR gave me a taste of the growth I could see in kids lives through relationships and it encourages me to give everything I have to my kids. They deserve it.”
-Brad Mitchell, 4th Grade Teacher in Rogers, AR