In this month’s Lasallian Volunteers “Ministry of the Month,” the District of Eastern North America is featured. The ministry is Ocean Tides School and the Lasallian Volunteer is second-year volunteer, Andre Barnes, a 2016 graduate of Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.
WHAT IS OCEAN TIDES SCHOOL?
Ocean Tides School is a Lasallian school and residential program that is committed to providing a challenging, yet safe and healthy learning environment designed to meet the social, emotional, behavioral, and intellectual needs of each individual. The young men who attend are in grades seven through 12. Ocean Tides School offers a full high school diploma, is licensed by the Rhode Island Department of Education, and accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In addition, Ocean Tides School offers a certified special education program and career/technical education programming.
WHAT SERVICE IS ANDRE DOING AT OCEAN TIDES SCHOOL?
Andre is a recreation and activities coordinator at Ocean Tides School. He is part of a team that researches, plans, and implements a variety of on and off-campus activities and events that include sports, community service, life skills workshops, and field trips. Andre has taken students to a variety of activities during his service years. He has found the most success from taking the students at Ocean Tides School to neighboring University of Rhode Island (URI) to join in the activities that are offered by the student organizations. The kids in Andre’s charge have enjoyed going to dance competitions, open mic nights, playing basketball, swimming, and running on the URI track. Andre says, “I want them to reduce tension and have them see the outside world. It gives them something to work for. Seeing a college campus is also really good for our guys.”
HOW WAS ANDRE INTRODUCED TO LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?
Because Andre is a graduate of Lewis University, he heard about the Lasallian Volunteers from several of our alumni. What truly motivated him was his desire to work with students he identified with as similar to himself when he was growing up. He says, “I wanted to help kids because like them, I was not always a good student and had behavior problems in school.”
HOW DOES ANDRE TOUCH THE MINDS AND HEARTS OF THOSE ENTRUSTED TO HIS CARE?
Andre’s service involves flexibility and the understanding that things can change quickly in the life of a high school student. His students might not want to do the activity he’s proposing so he has to have two or three back up recreational activities to meet the needs of his groups. He recognizes that they need him to be flexible but consistent in his tone and behavior with them. He says, “Consistency is a huge thing but it really has to come with the events and lesson plans and with discipline. One thing I’ve noticed is if I change something they call me out on it quick.”
WHAT DOES ANDRE WANT TO SAY TO COLLEGE SENIORS ABOUT THE LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS PROGRAM?
Andre believes that all college graduates should give back after they finish school. He hopes his peers will all consider a year with Lasallian Volunteers. He says, “We’ve done so much growing to this point (graduation) and learned a lot that I think it would be a shame if we didn’t give back and try to help people who didn’t get that opportunity. I’ve been in some of the same situations the kids have and learned from them and overcame. If I didn’t use my experiences to try to help them like somebody did for me, it wouldn’t feel right.”