College Mentors Alumnus Helps Kids from South Bend to HarlemJune 29, 2012 | Indianapolis
Erin Scott, a 2012 graduate of the University of Notre Dame majoring in Anthropology and Peace Studies, has taken her service to children into her professional life and is working at a charter school in Harlem, New York.
Scott is now with Success Academy Charter School’s to work with groups of first graders while being trained to be an assistant teacher.
Success Academy educates at-risk children in Harlem so that they can reach college.
Scott was a four-year volunteer for College Mentors for Kids at Notre Dame and served in a variety of positions including general manager, treasurer, and chapter president her senior year. Under Erin’s leadership, the program served 86 elementary students through 90 college student volunteers in 2011-2012, increasing the number of students and grade levels served from the year before.
A key aspect of the Success Academy program is attracting talented people to teach in their schools. The Academy teamed with Pourl College to offer an Education Masters program to prospective teachers at no cost to the participants. Scott expects to receive her master’s degree in education next summer and go into full-time teaching for the Success Academy.
As a freshman at Notre Dame, Scott was introduced to College Mentors for Kids by a friend involved in the program.
“I started with the program to get the opportunity work with kids and to run around and be a kid for a couple hours every week,” Scott said. “I stayed with the program for the relationships – we had a group of us who were with the program all the way from freshman year through senior year and we got to be really close. And then of course seeing the relationships built between the kids and their mentors was so rewarding!”
Scott said the experience gained from College Mentors now comes into play in her everyday work; communication skills and experience leading groups are essential to her new role working with disadvantaged New York City students.
Scott relayed a story from her time with College Mentors that inspired her to pursue a lifetime of working with children – A child who was having a particularly difficult time in school and struggled with behavior problems joined the mentor program. Over the course of the year, the student and his mentor became very close and at the end of the program the mentor presented his Little Buddy with a red hat. From that day forward, his teacher reported, without fail when the bell rang for recess and again at the end of the day, the student would promptly take the red hat out from his desk and put it back on his head.
Seeing the powerful impact of working with children led Erin to explore education, particularly the challenges of working with at-risk kids. She eventually signed on with the Success Academy Charter Schools because they target children from disadvantaged backgrounds – much like the children she had worked with in South Bend.
Scott summed up why she loves working with children through a story about her experience as a mentor at Notre Dame:
“I remember we were making a video to promote the chapter and we had just received brand new journals for the kids. The video was all unscripted, and when you’re working with young kids’ unfiltered opinions, disaster is always right around the corner,” Scott reflected. “The Associate Program Director from headquarters was there for the video and she asked this little girl, ‘So do you like the new notebook?’ The little girl responded adamantly, ‘No! I don’t like it!’…‘I love it!’ The more I work with kids the more I realize that kids have this ability to continuously surprise you and exceed your expectations.”