WFU students paint desks to help at-risk elementary school students
By Cheryl Walker
In partnership with Old Town Elementary School in Winston-Salem, two Wake Forest University students plan to provide desks, chairs, school supplies and tutoring help to at-risk students.
The project, called D.E.S.K. or Discovering Education through Student Knowledge, was developed by Wake Forest seniors Elizabeth Eubank and Tierney Kraft after a discussion with a fifth grade teacher who was discouraged that so few of her students were doing well in math. The teacher suggested that with a good study environment at home, the students could be more successful.
Our idea is to provide a positive working environment for the students in their own homes, said Eubank, who coordinates Wake Forest students who tutor at Old Town Elementary. We will provide the desk, along with a chair, lamp and school supplies.
Each desk will be painted by Wake Forest students and faculty April 6. The desk-painting event will run from 5 to 8 p.m. on Magnolia Courtyard on the Wake Forest campus and will include live music and food. Each child chosen for the program will be placed with a campus group for the day. The group will paint a desk for their child based on his or her interests. Prizes will be awarded for the most creative designs.
Eubank and Kraft hope a homework friendly space with good lighting and the right supplies will lead to an increased ability to focus. By also pairing each student with a Wake Forest volunteer for evening tutoring sessions, the organizers want to further increase the students chances of school success.
With the help of a community responsibility grant from the university and donations from area churches and businesses, the student organizers plan to set up desks in the homes of at least 23 students. Old Town Elementary faculty and administrators identified children who could benefit from the program.
To implement their program, Eubank and Kraft created a 15-student committee. After setting up the newly decorated desks in the childrens homes, the committee members will serve as tutors. They will visit each childs home three times (with the parent present) to teach skills for organizing and completing schoolwork.
A desk is a small, small thing, but it can have a big effect, Kraft said.
Kraft and Eubank plan for D.E.S.K. to become an annual program. The event was originally scheduled for April 1, but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.