Educating the future

Umoja reads to elementary children


Bailee Lewis

Melan George, an LMC student in the Umoja program, reads to Foothill Elementary School children.

Bailee Lewis, Staff Writer

Before Black History Month came to an end, Los Medanos College faculty members and students had the opportunity to volunteer and read Black History Month books to the children at Foothill Elementary School and Highlands Elementary School. 

Dr. A’kilah Moore, the former Dean of Mathematics and Science, started the idea of reading to the children, and asked Faith Watkins, Umoja scholars counselor, to take over managing it. Watkins has now been managing this event for the past four years. 

Umoja students and LMC staff always read to the children at Foothill Elementary during this month, but this year was the first time another location was added, Highlands Elementary. Dr. Tanisha Maxwell, Vice president of Student Services, and Nancy Ybarra, Intern Vice President of Instruction, read a couple of books to the children at Highlands Elementary, which shows how LMC management can sometimes take the time out of their busy schedules to participate in such a fun community event. 

“It’s just an opportunity for them to connect to the community, but also connect with the future of LMC,” said Umoja counselor, Faith Watkins. “The young kids who may come to LMC one day or have had parents, sisters, or brothers attend LMC. It reminds you why you volunteer and why you want to be apart of something bigger than yourself.”

Alongside reading to the children, the Black Student Union club also decorated the cafeteria for Black History Month at Foothill Elementary. About 30 volunteers, including LMC managers, faculty, staff and students participated.

“It was a fun experience,” said LMC student, Melan George. “I got a taste of what my future career is gonna be. I enjoyed seeing all of the children. The kids were attentive for the most part, but as kids do some lost interest towards the end.” 

Volunteers were assigned to a grade level and a classroom. Each volunteer was given the opportunity to pick out from various choices of which Black History Month themed book they wanted to read to the kids. 

“It was really cute,” said LMC student, Ziara DeBose. “I read to a fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade classes. All the kids were listening, they were very engaged in the readings. When I finished reading, they asked me questions about college. I felt super happy that it was a very good experience. I would definitely do this again, but maybe reading to younger children.” 

Black History Month may now be over, but that will not stop the Umoja program from educating and celebrating black culture wherever they are. The program can always use more volunteers for special events like this one and encourages more people to volunteer to help decorate for the event and read to children next year. 

For more information, visit the Umoja facilities in the new Student Union Building.