Educating the Next Generation: AmeriCorps Member Gains Experience to use in Future Career

Makia Hampton aspires to be a therapist in a local school, so after finishing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Memphis, she looked for ways to gain experience working with children in an educational setting. “My ultimate goal is to some way, somehow prevent people from becoming statistics” she remarked and added that “getting assistance when you are young … can help people avoid risky behavior later in life.” 

As a native Memphian, Makia looks for ways to pour into the people of Shelby County and being part of Porter-Leath’s AmeriCorps class of 2019 has provided clarity for her future profession. As an AmeriCorps member, Makia provides special enrichment services inside Porter-Leath Preschool classrooms. She visits the classrooms at Covington Pike Head Start a few times each week and pulls students who need extra practice on foundational literacy skills like letter recognition, phonics and vocabulary to work with her individually or in small groups. 

This enrichment has proven to be a positive method for helping those students who may lag behind their peers in literacy scores. In fact, results from testing at the end of the academic year (2018-2019) found that nearly all of the 264 students across Early Head Start, Head Start and Pre-K classrooms who received support from AmeriCorps members demonstrated improvement in their language and/or literacy skills throughout the year. Makia reported that providing extra enrichment time can help children build confidence in the classroom. 

The teachers appreciate the AmeriCorps members’ assistance in the classroom and they have been a great resource and source of seasoned advice for Makia. Her experience with AmeriCorps has helped her learn how to measure the temperaments of various children and how to pivot lessons to address their specific needs. “This is the most important time for a child’s growth,” she said. She believes early childhood sets the tone for children’s behavior, demeanor and academic success. 

The living stipend and educational scholarship provided by the AmeriCorps program has helped Makia pay for next semester of graduate school. She is currently studying Psychology in her graduate program at the University of Memphis and wants to pursue her clinical Ph.D.