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TRIO Teacher Prep Students in Action!

TRIO Teacher Prep Student Michalah Sherman
TRIO Teacher Prep Student Michalah Sherman

We are happy to highlight one of our TRIO Teacher Prep students who has been actively involved in her community during a time when the world was shutting down. Michalah Sherman is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Teaching, and a minor in Creative Writing.  Her long-term goal is to become a Secondary English Language Arts teacher at a Title 1 school  working with students from vulnerable populations. She wants to create a classroom space where students know that they are loved, believed in and will have her support unconditionally.

Please tell us about the organizations you have been involved with during this past year

Since February of 2021, I have been fortunate enough to be a volunteer tutor/mentor with two incredibly impactful programs in the refugee community. The first one was referred to as SAS (Student Academic Support). This particular program was created for English Language Learners in the Boise School District. There were designated volunteers at three separate locations in order to serve students from various surrounding schools: Collister United Methodist Church, Cornerstone Church, and Global Lounge. These locations were walking distance from students to ensure accessibility. When I first started volunteering there in February, it was during the time that students in the Boise School District were on a hybrid schedule—therefore, they were only attending physical classes every other day. That’s what this program was for; on the days students were online, they were given the opportunity to come to one of these three locations for academic support, encouragement, and to just have a safe and trusting place to come to for help and engagement with others (which was especially critical during the pandemic). Though the school year was filled with so much uncertainty, we strived to be a place of stability for children—the same predictability that the pandemic stripped from us. This program and the passionate volunteers that were part of it were unstoppable, though. When the Boise School District went back to physical classes full-time after Spring Break, SAS made the shift to an afterschool model to support students with their transition back to school. Once the school year concluded, the support didn’t—in fact, they did quite the opposite. SAS was modified in order to continue serving students over the summer with enrichment activities and an opportunity to connect with others in the community once a week. It’s currently referred to as REACH, and was created by a group of non-profit organizations that joined forces to support our English Language Learners and those who have come as refugees. Each week we are visited by various speakers, counselors, and the local library in order to support our students in every aspect through these summer months.

The second program I’ve been committed to is referred to as LEAP, through South Jr. High School—which resides in the Boise School District. This program was very similar in terms of its goals and mission statement; except instead of being in three separate locations, it was provided solely in this school and was existent for the English Language Learners that reside there. I was given the incredible opportunity of working one-on-one with these motivated, intelligent, and ambitious students multiple times a week. Even though our faces were masked, our hearts weren’t; I could see I was walking into a family and I was instantly welcomed with open arms (from six feet away, of course). Like REACH, this program didn’t end at the end of the school year either—now, we go on weekly field trips during the entire month of June, and spend time with students through educational and enrichment activities.

How have these experiences impacted you?

These experiences have been nothing short of amazing. I’ve always  wanted to work with vulnerable populations, but this experience has absolutely solidified that in every aspect. The relationships I have built and maintained with students and volunteers from both programs are ones that I will forever hold dear to my heart. Many of the children I work with have escaped war, been forced to leave loved ones behind in their countries, and have experienced very traumatic events.  The gentle hugs I receive from them are ones I will never forget, because their past hasn’t always been so delicate; but you would never be able to guess that by the bright smiles on their faces. I’ve learned that kindness goes further than I ever once thought; a simple, yet impactful, acknowledgement and an encouraging pat on the back can make the greatest of differences in the life of a child who has lived experiences that many of us cannot fathom.

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing opportunities like this?  How did you get involved?

I got involved in these programs from one of my professors reaching out to my class back in February, encouraging us to take up this opportunity if we had the availability to. If you have even the slightest interest in pursuing an opportunity like this one, please take it—I understand the hesitations that occur, and I whole-heartedly understand how scary it can be to push yourself to try something new. I can vouch that it’s worth it though; you may end up finding a community out there full of people you’ve been searching for your entire life.   Afterall, how can we make our mark on this world if we forever leave our canvas blank?

If you are interested in becoming involved with these programs or would like to be featured in our “TRIO Teacher Prep Students in Action” news update, please reach out to Adriana Veloza (  for more information.