By Robyn Martinez
Every Tuesday during the school year, Scales Technology Academy is filled with volunteers from Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Each week, select second- through fifth-graders have lunch with their big brothers and big sisters. While eating lunch, the partners play board games, color, or just talk about life.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships and help promote a positive future for youth.
One volunteer, Rachel Garcia, is a big sister to Scales third-grader Zaria Wheeler. Garcia is no stranger to the program.
She has been a part of it for most of her life, starting as a little sister when she was in elementary school.
Garcia shared that it was because of the influence of her big sister that she was able to apply for scholarships and go to college. Without that encouragement and support, she may not be where she is today.
“This is such a fulfilling program, to be able to give kids some of your time and help mold and encourage them in a positive life direction,” Garcia said.
Last month, Wheeler even had the opportunity to get together with Garcia for the first time outside of school. She spent an afternoon attending Garcia’s daughter’s birthday party.
When asked how she likes meeting with Garcia, Wheeler smiles shyly and says it’s fun. The program has been going on at Scales since early 2018, and the impact has been nothing but positive.
Scales Academic Behavior Interventionist Jennifer Highum said that these positive relationships have a great impact on students’ lives, from academics, behavior, confidence and their overall well-being.
“Our kids really look forward to spending time with their big brothers and big sisters each week, Highum said. “It’s so good for them to have another caring adult that is invested in their lives.”
Scales parent and Tempe Elementary employee Katherine Haynie echoed that sentiment.
“My daughter Ava has been a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program since last year. She looks forward to Tuesdays every week. She and her big sister eat lunch, do crafts together, and talk about life,” said Haynie.
“I appreciate the positive influence she is having on my daughter, as well as the time she has committed. I don’t think a person can ever experience too much love, and I’m grateful my little one has one more loving grown-up showing up for her on a regular basis.”