Honors College looking to expand Education Outreach


CW | Jonathan Daniels

Patrick Smith

Education Outreach will begin expanding in the spring semester in an effort to get more UA Honors College students involved in Tuscaloosa area schools.

The purpose of Education Outreach is to take Honors College students and have them mentor and guide preschool, elementary and middle school students in Tuscaloosa, but getting the wanted number of volunteers has been difficult to obtain.

“Our biggest focus right now is getting more students that we’re reaching because we do pull from Honors College volunteers, so it has been difficult in the past to get the numbers we want,” said Ann Varnedoe, executive director of Education Outreach and a junior majoring in psychology and African American studies. “But, we’re finally at a good place with the amount of staff we have and amount of support we have from the Honors College to reach as many students as possible in Tuscaloosa.”

Varnedoe said that Education Outreach moved to mostly after-school shifts, making it harder for a consistency of UA students to form crucial relationships with students who are often at-risk children in Tuscaloosa schools. Part of the expansion will entail working more with teachers and implementing day shifts which would essentially double the amount of shifts that already exist.

“Last semester we had many volunteers who wanted to participate, but we didn’t have enough shifts,” said Vicki Holt, coordinator for Education Outreach. “So, this year, what we’re trying to do is make sure that we have enough shifts for everyone who wants to give back and work in our communities.”

Varnedoe said that Education Outreach also plans to move into more schools in the area and that they’re working on a program for high schools.

Education Outreach isn’t limited to certain areas of study concerning volunteers, as it’s more of a way for Honors College students who aren’t oriented towards studying education or community involvement to get involved.

“It’s just a really good way for students to see a whole different part of life they might not have been exposed to before because of their chosen major,” Varnedoe said. “For a lot of students it has changed the course of what they wanted to do when they get involved with the school and get involved in helping these kids.”