(Submitted by Crystal Voegele, Teaching and Learning, Clinical Instructor)
Most Faulkner county residents have heard of Soaring Wings Ranch and the phenomenal, inspiring lengths that they go to support foster children here in central Arkansas. The ranch is a residential facility that is Christ-centered and serves children who have been abused, orphaned, abandoned, neglected, or in need of a family. With so many children, Soaring Wings Ranch could use some extra ranch-hands, especially when it comes to educating these children, and that is where the College of Education heeded the call, forming an official partnership.
According to the educational specialist for Soaring Wings Ranch, Julia Groce, “This partnership is unique because it is mutually beneficial for all involved! Soaring Wings Ranch (SWR) and Greenbrier students benefit by receiving one-on-one personalized educational support, something that is hard to come by during the school day. For SWR students this is especially helpful, as there are up to seven other children that need homework assistance in their homes after school. UCA education candidates benefit from having the experience of looking at students in a very personal way. As a teacher it is easy to look at students as a group, but a teacher must learn to focus on the individual learner to maximize educational impact. UCA students are rising to this occasion by arriving to tutoring prepared with extensive materials including educational applications for mobile devices and engaging educational support materials. UCA students are not only helping directly with academic content knowledge, but also assisting students with organizational and study skills that lead to academic success. UCA students are able to provide tutoring services to our children that would cost SWR thousands of dollars if we were to hire private tutors.”
Greenbrier Public Schools graciously agreed to host all tutoring sessions and provide a mentor for each site where students are served. Due to the professionalism of UCA students and the success of this initiative, Greenbrier has also allowed additional students to join the SWR tutoring sessions. As this partnership continues to grow, so do the children of SWR.
This past weekend, SWR hosted its half marathon in Conway, which boasted over 2,000 participants and hundreds of volunteers. Each runner received a metallic medal in the shape of expanded wings with the engraved message, “Giving Children a Chance to Soar.” UCA teacher education candidates do this every day they serve in such a needed capacity!