My name is Kelly Sherman and I am the Children’s Corner Coordinator. I began working at Wellspring in November of 2015.
I was able to shadow Yi during the week of Halloween before she moved to Oklahoma. I immediately fell in love with Wellspring; the staff, the guests, and the children. I quickly bonded with the children that came to Wellspring every day or several times a week.
Wellspring has been, by far, my favorite place of employment. I saw myself working at Wellspring for years, growing with the current Wellspring children and, years down the road, their future children. While working upstairs in the afternoon, I became inspired by the social work transpiring through the interns. I found myself “butting in,” offering advice and asking to assist the guests; I realized that I should continue my education in social work. With my first year in the Master’s program, I was extremely fortunate to be able to remain at Wellspring through a job-related placement for an internship. I was able to work in the Children’s Corner in the morning while interning in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the internship for the second year of the Master’s program is 24 hours a week, an additional eight hours from the previous year. With the high demand of the Master’s curriculum, I will be unable to continue as the Children’s Corner Coordinator. I am deeply saddened by this and I find myself fighting the decision to leave. I have grown close with the children and their families. I almost feel like part of their family as I spent two and a half hours with a handful of the same children every single weekday.
While working as the Children’s Corner Coordinator, I can think of many highlights. The wellspring community wished me warm blessings and offered plenty of advice when I married Darrell, a former social work intern at Wellspring. The many holidays we celebrate together will continue to warm my heart through memories. My husband will continue to be the Easter bunny as he enjoys the activity as much as the children, if not more. Halloween felt like a time of mystery and magic, created from the suspense the children felt about what costume they would wear and how much candy they would get. The twelve days of Christmas was a time full of joy and excitement, felt throughout the building, generating from the children and adults.
Other highlights pertaining to the children’s corner consist of activities with the children. Lisa (Wellspring board member) and Tiffany would come every week and teach the children how to play soccer. The children would frequently ask when the “soccer people” were coming. Last summer, the staff and volunteers parked on the sidewalk Wednesday mornings so that the children had the entire parking lot to play soccer. Miss Yolanda would bring an arts and craft activity each week for the children to do, building their fine motor skills. The children enjoyed crafting the art while the parents were delighted to display the art at home.
I found “homework time” and reading time to be my favorite activities in the Children’s Corner. At first, I printed of packets of work appropriate for pre-school age children. Once the children completed 5 packets, they were given a prize. Only one child, who was currently enrolled in head start, returned the homework packets. Because the age of the target children was three years old, I decided to give a small prize for every “homework” sheet they turned in; prizes such as a bouncy ball, pencil, a toy from a happy meal, etc. Soon, the kids would ask, “Can I do my homework?” And then they would sit in the lady bug school desk or the turtle school desk and trace their name, numbers, alphabet, shapes along with counting and choosing items from smallest to largest, etc. Since the work was done at Wellspring and not at home, I tried to rephrase homework to schoolwork, but it did not stick.
My other favorite activity was reading time. Every morning I would attempt to have the children help clean up and then gather so that I could read a book. However, most of the children would disappear when I would give the five minute warning for clean-up, so none would be around to listen to a story. One of the grandmothers gave me a bell and I let each child ring it at clean-up time if they promised to pick up one item. Quickly after, I would gather the children in a circle and read two to three short books. If the children sat in the circle for story time, they were able to choose a sticker. The children reveled in mulling over every sticker on the sheet before carefully choosing the sticker that would be placed on their hand. Because children strive to be independent, the kids soon decided they would be the ones to peel the sticker off the sheet, not me. I loved it! These children mean so much to me and I am teary-eyed about having to say goodbye.