As you walk around Auburn’s campus, glancing at Jordan-Hare stadium on your right and a brand new, state-of-the-art engineering building on your left, it’s hard to believe that just a few short miles away children are hoping that one day the world maps in their classrooms will be from a recent decade.
For Notasulga students, that desire for the basics is a reality.
However, the College of Education is making it's voice heard in the Notasulga school community, by improving the lives of students through their new outreach initiative.
VOICES is a program that promotes leadership and advocacy efforts among the students and student leaders in the College of Education, involving them in impoverished communities in the area.
“Our mission is to prepare future educators and counselors to be committed and prepared advocates in school systems and communities statewide,” Kathy Robinson, Co-Coordinator for AU VOICES, said.
In conjunction with developing these skills, VOICES is working to create a number of various projects in at-risk schools across Alabama, particularly Notasulga K-12. And in a place where supplies and resources are few and far between, this outreach effort will be vital to the future education of Notasulga students.
“Knowing that there is such disparity 30 minutes from campus, with a school system that is fighting for notebooks and pens, being able to get involved with that and seeing the appreciation on their faces is really empowering,” Eric Crumley, a member of Iota Delta Sigma, an organization that works in conjunction with AU VOICES, said.
One of VOICES’ current projects is a musical instrument drive. The students at Notasulga have expressed an interest in excelling in the arts, but the resources are extremely limited. VOICES encourages all College of Education organizations to come together, collect these items, and begin to make a difference in the lives of these children.
On the College of Education website, organizations can also choose from a variety of resource requests from Notasulga, ranging from calculators, ink cartridges, and reading materials that will help make an impact.
“As student leaders, we are about empowering, not enabling the people that we work with. We want to provide opportunities for the students as well as the community. We are working with and for these people,” Robinson said.
And this initiative has the backbone of support needed for success.
VOICES has the support and commitment of those such as the Dean of the College of Education Fran Kochan, as well as Dr. Jamie Carney, professor and coordinator of community agency counseling.
It is this type of foundation that will help VOICES grow and evolve.
“When you have the support of your department, your dean, and your advisors and faculty, you feel like your voice is a little larger than it might be as an undergrad or a graduate student,” Crumley said.