One of the things that we are most proud of as an organization is our ability to create productive and mutually enjoyable partnerships between teachers and volunteers. The pairing of volunteer, Roe Polans, and teacher, Yana Gorbachinsky, is so successful that they have continued to work together for five years in three different grades and in different schools.
What motivated you to become a S.A.G.E. volunteer?
RP: I love working with children and wanted to find volunteer work that would be rewarding and comforting for me. At the time I joined, I was a caregiver for my brother and sister in law who were very ill and had no one but me to help them. It was so depressing to see them deteriorate. The work in the classroom would be a wonderful distraction for me from the inner pain I was feeling. I also wanted to help children improve their self-esteem.
What is your background?
I was trained as a special education teacher. Early in my career I worked in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed boys as well as working in a public High School as a resource room teacher. I stayed home many years with my two children and returned as a substitute teacher in the elementary schools until I became a caregiver.
What do you love most about being a S.A.G.E. volunteer?
I love ... being able to help children catch up with work, succeed at a project, and share some of my background. They love to hear about “old times”.
What is the most surprising thing about your experience?
What totally surprised me is how excited the class was to see me and help them. I didn’t expect that from 6th grade aged children! Every time I came into class this past year, I got hugs, high fives, and wonderful greetings.
Every single child wrote me a note at the end of the year and it really touched my heart!! I am so glad I can make a difference!
What are some of the logistical benefits for teachers when working with a S.A.G.E.?
YG: Mrs. Polans addresses students’ questions when I’m working with a student or small group, this way all students needs are met in the classroom. Secondly, Mrs. Polans will administer an assessment to students who were absent. This allows me the classroom teacher to stay focused on my students and the task they are working on. Mrs. Polans will work in a small group or one-on-one with students on their writing and reading needs, this way each student gets what they need in order to be successful. Knowing that Mrs. Polans will be in our classroom on Monday and Fridays allows our students to get extra individualized attention, that they may have not received if she were not there.
What are some unexpected benefits you and your students experienced?
Mrs. Polans is the shining light in our day. Her positive attitude radiates through our classroom. It puts our entire classroom in a better mood. I know that we as a class can accomplish a little bit more when she is present. Students have twice the support, attention, and encouragement on the days Mrs. Polans is present.
During Mrs. Polans’ visits, she has worked one-on-one with students to catch them up on work they missed due to absences, and/or she has helped them catch up on their independent reading. Mrs. Polans has worked with a small group of students to help them formulate their writing and/or she has helped students with research. Mrs. Polans has also given writing and comprehension tips to students when working with our Collections program.
How does having a S.A.G.E. in the classroom enrich education?
Mrs. Polans adds insight to our ELA lessons by sharing her thoughts and knowledge about the nonfiction articles, poems, and realistic fiction stories that we read. Since writing is one of Mrs. Polans’ strong suits, she offers writing suggestions to the class. She loves reading aloud and students of all ages enjoy when she reads to them. Mrs. Polans isn’t afraid to ask questions about the content we’re learning and in turn the students feel proud when they can respond to her inquiries.
What are some tips you would share with teachers new to S.A.G.E.?
Having a S.A.G.E volunteer is like working with your best friend. My S.A.G.E volunteer and I have just completed our fifth year of teaching together! We have worked together at three different elementary schools in Council Rock. We have been there for each other through good times and sad times. We have built many memories along the way. We have seen our students grow into the best versions of themselves. Having a S.A.G.E in your classroom gives you the support you need to ensure all students’ needs are being met. Who wouldn’t want that for their class?
We also got some thoughts from the students in their 6th grade class.
What's the best part about having a S.A.G.E. in your class?
With one teacher it's hard to split the attention equally between all the kids who have questions. It's nice because then she gets you caught up on all the lessons you missed. Mrs. Polans is super nice and helps out a lot.
She is just a great role model and taught me a lot about writing. She told me what I could do better in my research presentation and I will work on that for my next presentation for middle school. She just taught me a lot.
Mrs. Polans helps me with school work when I need help, Mrs. Polans also reads with me when I need to catch up in my book.
- Abby Gessner
When I come back from lunch I love how everybody says hi to her and is excited when she comes! I feel like it gives us a happy vibe and she helps us a lot. She sits down and reads with us and gives us feedback when we present.
- Gavriella Gold
She shares some of her personal stories with us and then listens to what we say. She also gives us feedback with our presentations.
The best part of having Mrs. Polans in our class is the way she helps us all with everything, especially grammar and writing. She gives a lot of good tips and helps you edit your essays sometimes.
- Josh Gould
Having Mrs. Polans in our classroom every Monday and Friday is amazing. But if I had to choose the best part about it is when we are doing ELA and Mrs.Polans genuinely takes her time to help us if we are confused about the lessons.
- Lana Hakma
The best part of having Mrs. Polans in our class is that I really like her help and her stories are very entertaining to me and the class. She helps me with reading and writing and its very helpful.
I really liked how she read when we read together.
The best part of having Mrs. Polans in our class is, that she always puts a smile on everyone’s faces, and she is an extra helping hand. Mrs. Polans always helps us, during the two days she comes, almost every week. When we walk in after Lunch, everyone is excited to see her. The best part of having Mrs. Polans in our class is her dedication to help us be better learners.
I personally think the best part about having Mrs. Polans in our class is that she is very helpful. For example, when we do presentations, she gives really good feedback. When giving an assignment, Mrs. Polans makes sure we are on the right track. She helps us focus. When making a mistake, sheĺl correct us and make sure we know how to do it the right way. Lastly, I also think it is really cool how she puts the effort in to come to our class on Mondays and Fridays.
- Kate Manel
She always helps you when you need help with work or when you miss a day she catches you up. She is a great help to everyone no matter what she helps with.
- Maya Mission
The best part is when she is here she helps us out a lot and if we don't finish something she helps us finish it. She also gives good feedback for presentations.
- Gavin Quinn
The best thing about having Ms. Polans in our class is the read aloud and how she helps me with my writing skills.
- Alex Robertson
Mrs. Polans is a great teacher even if she's not our real teacher she is always helping us learn. She one time helped me edit a writing piece and with that 30 minutes she helped me I learned a lot as a writer and got a lot of work done. So now to answer the question of what is the best part of having Mrs. Polans in our class. The answer to this is everything she's an amazing teacher and brings joy to our class every Monday and Friday.- Connor Williams
The best part of having Mrs. Polans in our class is that she helps students catch up on work if they were absent and she is very nice and intelligent.
- Angela Zhang
The best part of having Mrs. Polans in class is that she is basically like a second teacher and helps out with a lot of stuff.
What do you want other students to know about learning with a S.A.G.E.?
Msr. Polans is really nice and always has your best interest. She gives similar corrections that Ms.G does so you know they are a really good pair.
That it is the best experience ever! She is so nice and will help you all the time. She will also tell you what you need to work. She is just so nice and I wish I could have her as a teacher.
- Bradford Barnes
That she the nicest person I have ever met and she will help you with anything.
- Josh Erman
She is a really good helper for anything you need, whether it’s science or grammar or reading or writing. She’ll answer all of your questions. She also gives you really good advice.
I want other students to know about learning with Mrs. Polans is real fun and relaxing. She is always nice and knows how to make kids enjoy having fun while learning subjects.
- Sunny Gul
When you are learning with Mrs. Polans she carefully takes her time to teach us what we're learning. While learning with her its a lot of fun and excitement all around. Every time she comes in the class gets super excited just for her to teach us.
Do not be scared to ask for help. If you think you have a bad question it is not and she will help you with what you need. Finally, you should get to know her because she is a great person.
- Emily Hammond
She helps you learn more than what you think you can accomplish and takes learning to the next level. She helps you understand it more when you do not understand it.
I would want other students to know that they should savor the time that Mrs. Polans is around, because she is there to help, but she isn’t there for that long.
She was really nice and I loved having her in the classroom.
- Lizzie Lane
Mrs. Polans helps us become better learners. A new opinion is always welcome. Mrs. Polans is a very kind teacher.
I would want other students to know about learning with Mrs. Polans is how helpful she is. She is also funny and very caring about a lot of things.
- Kate Manel
If you have any questions with anything, she will help you.
She is really nice and she can help out with anything.
- Stephen Pool
That you shouldn't be afraid to ask her a question.
I look forward to the days our S.A.G.E. visits the classroom because:
She is a great role model but most of all, she is so nice and teaches us so much. Also you always a smile on your face she is in the same room as you. To sum it up she is just such a nice teacher.
She is really nice. Sometimes she reads stories to us-really fun. She makes the whole class happy and puts a smile on our faces.
- Ava Driscoll
I look forward to those days because instead of a normal day, Mrs. Polans manages to make it different. I appreciate when she's here especially during a presentation so she can give us honest feedback on it.
- Lana Hakma
Mrs. Polans is funny, nice, she is awesome, and I never want her to leave at the end of the day.
She puts a smile on my face and cheers me up.
She helps me with stuff I either need to revise or work on for the future.
She helps a lot with all the things I don’t know about. She sometimes reads a book out loud which is a good brain break. If i’m struggling, she will help me.
- Josh Gould
She is a good role model and she makes me laugh and I got to know her really quickly and she makes me look forward to Mondays and Fridays.
- Emily Hammond
She makes me happy because she make school more fun for us and I like her in the classroom because she helps me a lot and I think that's amazing. Mrs.Polans thank you for everything you did for us.
I know that when she comes she helps us and she likes to be with us so it makes us happy that we have someone that can help us that has many years of experience. She helps us more than we could ever imagine. We are very thankful for her!
I look forward to having Mrs. Polans around because she is really nice and helpful. A lot of times, she will share stories, or help you out with a question, the whole time being the nicest she could possibly be.
Ms. Gorbachinsky is only one person, and when Mrs. Polans comes, we have an extra teacher to help answer our questions. If we do presentations, Mrs. Polans always comments on our presentations, and it is very helpful. Sometimes Mrs. Polans has another take on something and shares a different opinion/side of something we didn't notice or realize. She is also a very kind teacher.
- Ela Luczak
She makes the day better and it’s always cool to have a second helper in the classroom.
- Maya Mission
She gives feedback on presentations that help me in the future.
- Marianne Moise
She always greets us with hugs and a smile! She makes sure we learn but have fun while learning. We also know she loves us, she makes us happy!
- Cara Moriarty
I look forward to these days because she gives really good feedback and also adds on some extra information on what we are learning.
- Gavin Quinn
She usually reads a read aloud and the day will be easier because there are 2 teachers to help you not once.