By Carla Manger
The teachers at the Byron Syring Delta Center have to do double-duty — they teach students from all over the state online, as well as attend to the academic, social, emotional, and psychological needs of students who come to the brick and mortar school. It is a tall charge, and having an AAI member is immensely helpful because all of my focus is on helping the onsite students. The teachers do not have to split their time and attention as much, and the students get more of the one-on-one attention they need. I am a resource to provide anything from a quick 15-20 minute session to talk through one specific problem to devoting an entire afternoon to help a student catch up on work in a subject in which they struggle. Two students I had struggled significantly with math. With one, I about half my mornings in the fall semester and a significant portion of mornings in the spring reading and talking through lessons, and then applying those concepts to assignments. With the other, towards the end of semesters, we spent hours some days rolling through assignments to get him caught up in a subject he had avoided all semester. The students would not have been able to get nearly as much of the consistent, personalized attention that they needed to help them succeed.
I helped coach high school girls in soccer and basketball this year. Athletics in the valley are not extensive due issues such as funding, economic viability for families, and interest in coaching girls sports. Girls have to leave to the valley to play above the high school level. They do not have exposure to the coaching or competition that would help them use their athletic ability to access higher education that might not otherwise be an option. Having had those opportunities as a high schooler, and having played soccer in college, I could provide some of that exposure. Between providing feedback and advice to stepping on the court or field to play with them, I have been able to help them grow as athletes and understand the work and discipline it takes to succeed in their sport.
I have been able to get involved with a lot of activities I have been interested in and have either always done or hardly had the opportunity to do, especially in out of school activities. I have been able to use my experience in athletics to coach sports I love. I have had the opportunity to learn more about backpacking and outdoor leadership in different environments and seasons. I am helping lead a trail crew this summer, which I likely would not have had to opportunity to do without AAI.
AAI also assigned me perfectly to the school where I serve. I love the Delta Center, from the students to the staff, so much that, despite having been adamantly against going into teaching in college, I am staying another year. I am excited about continuing my service in the schools, and maybe even more so about the outdoor adventure and leadership opportunities starting next year.
Carla Manger served at the Monte Vista Delta Center, Kids Connection of Monte Vista and coached several sports in Monte Vista and Alamosa.