Kean Jumpstart Program Earns AmeriSchools Status
The preschoolers at Elizabethport Presbyterian Center in Elizabeth start many of their days by singing a special song, Hello, Jumpstart, to welcome the Kean University students who volunteer in their classrooms.
More than 80 Kean students volunteer through the AmeriCorps-funded program Jumpstart, teaching language literacy and social and emotional skills in small groups to get the children ready for kindergarten.
“Teachers have always had a huge impact on my life. They molded me into who I am today, and I always wanted to be that change for someone,” said freshman Sarah Otero, a math education major. “It also just brings me a lot of genuine happiness, seeing the kids every other day.”
In recognition of the University’s culture of service, Kean has been recognized as an AmeriSchools by the AmeriCorps program.
Jumpstart volunteers commit to more than 300 volunteer hours throughout the year. They participate in special training and lesson preparation sessions on Kean’s campus to prepare them for the challenging task of teaching three, four and five year olds.
Kean ranks fourth in New Jersey for the more than $506,000 in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards that Kean students have earned through their service and volunteerism through Jumpstart.
“For Kean to be named an AmeriSchool is a huge distinction because it shows how much service these Kean students are doing for America,” said Michelle Zuzock, senior site manager for Jumpstart at Kean. “We are getting things done for the preschool children in Elizabeth. We are giving them the skills they need to succeed in life.”
The AmeriSchools designation is the latest recognition of Kean’s record of community service. The University has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for six straight years.
“Volunteering makes me feel good about myself, seeing that I can make others feel good about themselves as well,” said Wes Martinez, a senior special education major from Hillside. “The children, when I help them out with something and I see their smiles, it is rewarding.”
Kean offers many opportunities to volunteer, through the Center for Leadership and Service, Student Organization, Greek life, and many student clubs.
“Kean is all about giving back and volunteering,” said Otero. “There are a lot of things going on, and it is really good to see that everybody at Kean bands together to give back.”