Minnesota Alliance with Youth

Norms and Exceptions in the Life of a Promise Fellow

Norms and Exceptions in the Life of a Promise Fellow

By Promise Fellow Elizabeth Drews

The day started off like any other: a 6:15 rising, coffee-making, teeth-brushing, and grabbing my backpack as the teacher that I ride to work with pulled up. Off we went on our daily voyage from South Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park, home to Prairie Seeds Academy.

Still in a sleepy stupor, I walked through the school doors, coffee in hand, and headed to the office to check in, open emails, check student attendance, visit with teachers who I had planned to meet with that day, and connect with students. As it was a Thursday, I grabbed the clipboard with names of the eleventh and twelfth grade students who had permission to leave for lunch.

At lunch, after the students left, my site supervisor approached me about a tenth-grader who had emigrated to the U.S. from France the year before. She noted this student had a strong desire to improve his English skills. While he had come a long way in the year he had been here, he still had a long way to go before becoming entirely fluent, especially in applying his language skills to classes like math and science. She remembered that I studied English and French in college, and thought it had potential to be a great partnership.

For the last quarter and a half, the student’s pronunciation and vocabulary had improved greatly through reading and writing interventions, approaches that are part of any Promise Fellow’s day.

Currently, we are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. His willingness and excitement about learning helps inspire me to continue serving youth from unique backgrounds. Not only is he learning and improving his English skills, but I also am learning about his experiences and traditions, and am improving my French skills.

In short, knowing that students like this are part of my day makes 6:15 a.m. seem a lot less intimidating.