Marisa: "Home Visits"
AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at High School for Recording Arts
I have a student on my list who is suffering from severe depression and anxiety. She comes from a very similar background as myself and is also a biracial woman. We made a deep connection at the beginning of the year, but a very traumatic situation happened mid quarter and she stopped attending. It had been two weeks from when she last came into school and I was scheduled to visit her at home last night. I made her a little self care package and wrote her a letter in preparation. I met with her and her mom last night and I was extremely anxious about it, but it went really well. We talked for hours about her experience in school, laughed, and broke bread. The student texted me after the meeting how thankful she is to have someone to look up to and that is fighting for her. She plans on coming to the school even this weekend and is so ecstatic to come to school and start the projects we talked about that night.
Emily: "Small Nudges"
AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at Northfield High School
A student who is usually uninspired to do homework came into our office this week during her study hall. She was nervous about a presentation on Greek mythology that she was supposed to give during the next class period. She told me she was thinking about skipping class with her friends in order to avoid giving the presentation. We talked about what the consequences would be if she did that and how it probably would not help her in the long run. Instead of skipping, I offered to help her prepare so she would feel more confident. As we worked on her presentation together, she realized she knew more than she thought she did about the topic. Later that day she told me she ended up not having to present but, unlike her friends who skipped, received all her “accountability points” because she showed up to class. The day after, she told me she presented and got a nearly perfect score for her work. I was really encouraged to know that my small nudge was likely what prevented this student from skipping class. It was a reminder that even the smallest support can help a student realize their potential.
Marcos: "Little Things"
AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at White Bear Lake Area High School
One of my students shared a letter with me in which she expressed that I was one of the few adults in the school that genuinely meant it when I asked her how she was doing. She really appreciated that I was able to jump in and help students during AVID time even if neither of us knew what was going on. And most of all she said that she welcomed my attitude towards the students- how I treated them more as equals than as students. I feel as if that is the main goal of the Promise Fellow position as a whole. It gives us the opportunity to empathize with both students and teachers and bridge the gap between these two roles. All throughout reading this I had a giddy smile on my face. It is rare that a student will express their appreciation towards you to your face, but when they do it makes it mean so much more.
AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at Saint Paul Harding High School (with the Sanneh Foundation)
One particular student at Harding High School in St. Paul, MN was in search of a place. He was previously expelled from his old school and already was getting into trouble and making bad first impressions to both his fellow students and staff. He was slowly slipping and if he would of kept on regressing the way he was; in no time, he most likely would of have started looking for another new school again. Fortunately, our staff noticed this sense of belonging and started relationship building. Take school away from the equation and start talking about what he liked, crack a few jokes here and there, make him smile, and give the student a chance to express himself. Eventually, he starts attending our after school program and is now one of our regulars. He now has found his place; a place where he is accepted for who he is, a place where he is wanted, a place where he can call home.
AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights
One of my students always seemed reluctant to get help from me. I figured that the way to get him to work with me was to give him a goal to work towards. We decided that if he could use his planner for three weeks (the time it takes for a habit to be formed) and pay attention in his classes (which he did) then he would be able to earn a pizza party. Every week I checked in, and saw that my student was doing a wonderful job. He kept a detailed planner and didn’t get into any trouble in his classes. At the end of the three weeks, I threw him a pizza party with two of his friends during lunch, and asked what goal we could work on next to keep the planner going. He stated “I don’t need a goal. The planner actually helps me to do my homework, and that’s incentive enough.” The student has since been using his planner regularly and encouraging his friends to do so as well.
Kierstin: "Small Ears & Big Hearts"
AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at Minnesota Internship Center, Unity Campus
In the middle of October a student came into my room distraught and upset. I had interacted with her briefly one time earlier in the school year. Not thinking that our first encounter held much weight, I was surprised to see her in my office that day. As we started chatting I wasn't sure where our conversation was going to lead. After a few minutes tears started to stream down her face. She went on to tell me about the struggles she was facing in her personal life and with the environment at school. Her courage to open up to me after only knowing me for a short time meant a lot to me. As I listened to her story, I realized how important my ears were in connecting our hearts. She needed someone to listen and I was there to provide that support for her. Since that day, our relationship has continued to grow and change. We still communicate regularly and I am happy to be another supportive adult in her life.