What Being a Promise Fellow Means to Me
July 6, 2015
By La’Kiesha Shannon, Minnesota Alliance With Youth AmeriCorps Promise Fellow serving at Harbor City International School in Duluth, MN
Being a Promise Fellow is more than preparing students for their future. It’s about building a connection with the youth. It’s being that caring adult that they can trust and being that person who believes in them because maybe they don’t have that at home. I chose to become a Promise Fellow because I want to be a teacher when I’m older and it was an opportunity to gain experience with youth. Another huge reason is because I want to make a positive difference in someone’s life and being a Promise Fellow helped me do that.
The impact that Promise Fellows make are tremendous. It’s about the connection that the Fellow makes with the student. It’s a chance for the students to see that there are people that believe in them and that they can do something positive with their lives. Maybe that’s all the student needs to be able to be more confident in their abilities.
For me, personally, I felt that the students could relate with me better than their teachers because I was closer to their age. I was someone that they could talk to about their peer problems. At one point, one of my students had a breakdown in class and started crying. Her teacher asked her if there was any place she wanted to go or someone she wanted to talk with. At first she said no, she did not want to talk with anyone. After a couple of minutes she said: “I want to talk with Ms. Shannon; can I go to Ms. Shannon’s room?”
After talking about what happened and getting her to cool down after a little while, she was able to calm down enough to go back to class.
Being a Promise Fellow is not always about helping students with their education. It’s about helping them grow as a person. I had a parent email me this;
“I can’t thank you enough for what you helped my child accomplish! And thank you for being someone she trusts! You helped teach her that the staff really care about her and are trustworthy! You did more than just help her with school work. And for that, I am so grateful.”
This email to me describes the impact that Promise Fellows have. The students impact us just as much as we do them. These small thank yous make me glad that I decided to become a Promise Fellow. I am glad that I was able to touch students’ lives. I feel that not only have I touched their lives but they have touched mine as well. I will never forget them and I am glad that I got the chance to work with them. It was an honor. I would also like to thank Minnesota Alliance with Youth for giving me the chance to be able to be the person that was able to help these students.
Working at the school that I had attended as a high schooler was nerve wrecking and awkward and sometimes I still felt like a student. Eating lunch with the teachers in the teacher’s lounge was one of the weirdest things. I felt like I should’ve gotten scolded for it. The teachers there were understanding and helped me feel more comfortable as time went. Eventually, I got used to the aspect of being staff. I felt accepted.
Over all, I loved working at Harbor City. Both staff and students were welcoming and helped make me feel like I belonged there.
[From “Voices From the Field: Reflections from Minnesota Alliance With Youth’s AmeriCorps Promise Fellows.” Summer 2015.]