“Where in Wisconsin is Jessica Doyle?” is a geography game Wisconsin’s First Lady Jessica Doyle has on her website to teach kids about cities in Wisconsin. Last week, the answer to that question was Appleton.Doyle, an avid education advocate, dropped by Edison Elementary School to observe two Lawrence volunteer outreach programs, LARY Buddies and ArtsBridge. Doyle’s visit was a part of “Higher Education Day,” designated for October 9 by the Wisconsin Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction and other state officials.
The aim of this day, according to its website, is to “inspire students of all ages to reach for post-secondary education as a goal.” It also tries to educate Wisconsinites about financial aid and savings programs available to them for post secondary education.
Lawrence’s outreach programs are nationally recognized. LARY (Lawrence Assistance Reaching Youth) Buddies are Lawrence students who mentor Edison Elementary students who may need extra attention in subjects inside and outside of the classroom.
ArtsBridge America, created by President Jill Beck at the University of California at Irvine, has spread to 22 universities throughout the United States and Northern Ireland.
The program was originally created to supplement diminishing fine arts programs in California public schools by having university students teach arts curricula. Lawrence’s chapter continues with that mission.
Senior Nicole Dabney, a “Big Buddy” in the LARY Buddy program, said Mrs. Doyle spoke to three Lawrence students and two Edison Elementary students about what they usually do in the program.
Although “the little buddies looked pretty nervous,” Dabney said, “they did a great job.” Doyle’s visit with the LARY buddies lasted around 15 minutes.
Senior Sarah Bellmore, an ArtsBridge scholar, set up a flute museum and gave kids worksheets to fill out to give them more hands-on experience with the instrument.
Bellmore said Doyle came to the classroom for around 20 to 30 minutes and helped the kids fill out their worksheets. She added that the kids “were definitely excited to be the only fifth grade classroom in Appleton to have a visit from Mrs. Doyle.”
Doyle’s visit to Appleton hopefully taught students, educators and parents more about “Higher Education Day” and the availability of financial resources.
At the same time, however, the visit surely raised the visibility of LARY Buddies and ArtsBridge. As Bellmore said, “There are many children that crave mentors that will make a difference in their lives.