EVERETT — Instead of staying home alone this summer, 11-year-old Amy Eman has lots of company.
She’s a teacher’s assistant for a third-grade class in the Mukilteo School District summer school program, housed at Challenger Elementary.
“I think of it as a free ticket to actually being entertained,” said Amy, a newly minted Challenger grad who starts at Explorer Middle School in the fall. “When you’re home alone, it’s not exciting as it seems. It gets boring.”
Azul Rangel, 12, an Explorer seventh grader, is assisting in the other third-grade class.
“It’s nice to have something productive to do,” Azul said. “This is my first time doing something like this.”
The girls are volunteering because their former teachers asked for their help. They are not getting extra credit or community service hours or a badge or money.
Well, Amy did try to coax her teacher into giving her a flat-screen TV. No deal. She’d be just as happy with a device for home use for writing her novel.
“In my spare time here I focus on a book I am writing,” Amy said. She’s an avid reader, which comes in handy because the summer school program is focused on reading and writing. She wants to be either a teacher or a psychologist.
Amy’s 5-year-old sister is in a summer enrichment class for first graders at Challenger. Their mom leaves early for work, so Amy gets her up in the morning and walks her to school.
“My sister throws tantrums every morning if her hair is not exactly perfect. She’s like a little diva,” Amy said.
She said if she didn’t have the responsibility of teaching that she might sleep through the alarm and not get her sister to class on time. Amy stays until it’s time to walk her home afterward.
At school, Amy reads to the third graders and listens to their stories.
“A kid claimed she was a mermaid and told me not to tell anyone,” she said.
The kids don’t always pay attention when she reads.
“They pretend to be listening. I ask questions at the end and they’re like, ‘What?’ I just tell them, ‘Hey, listen,’” Amy said. “It’s easier than when I read to my sister. She looks off in the distance and starts playing around, or sits there like a stone.”
Amy’s personal book preference is “fiction that’s believable,” she said. “I’m a picky reader.”
Azul is reading the “Twilight” series of vampire-themed fantasy. She plans to pursue computer science or “something with STEM,” she said.
She and Amy helped students make a mechanical hand from rubber gloves and pipe cleaners. They made the kits for the classes to build a water slide out of toilet-paper tubes and a tower from spoons. They were stage moms for the kids’ production of Aesop’s Fables.
For both girls, the experience includes giving as well as getting something back.
“For a very non-social person it brings out the social person,” Amy said.
Azul is the youngest child in her family.
“I’m not a very patient person, so I’m definitely learning a lot of patience from these little kids,” Azul said.
“I’m experiencing almost being a teacher. It helped me realize that maybe a teacher wouldn’t be so bad.”
The tweens’ four-week duty ends Friday.
“Definitely relax and get a break from school,” Azul said. “One can only get so much school.”