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And This Is What We Talk About


Talking with students

By Nicole Northquest, Promise Fellow, Waconia High School

“What do you want to do after graduation?” I asked my sophomore student, Greta.

“I probably won’t graduate,” she responded.

“Why do you say that?”

“Because I keep failing classes.”

I talked with Greta about her hopes and dreams for the future and learned that her desire to one day work in computer animation was being squashed by her inability to see past her mistakes. She interpreted her report card to be a reflection of her self-worth and could not see herself as the creative and talented young lady that I see.

Building a concrete relationship with Greta was cultivated over many months. With time, she was able and willing to open up about her personal struggles and how they play in to her school work.

“What do you want in life?” I asked her.

“I want to graduate, make art, and be able to live on my own,” she pronounced.

“You are quite capable of all those things. Don’t accept obstacles that threaten your ability to reach your goals.”

Since this conversation, Greta’s attendance has improved and more of her assignments have been on time. When a Biology assignment came up the first week of the trimester, I was the first person she came to for help. It was a joy to see her completely in her element as she created beautiful drawings of the frozen tundra.

My mentoring relationship with this student has been such a joy for me. Whenever I wonder whether my efforts are making a difference, I think of the changes I have seen in her over the last several months and am reminded of how a little time and a few encouraging words can speak volumes to an individual.

“I’ll see you next Tuesday,” Greta said.

“I’m looking forward to it,” I replied.

[From “Voices From the Field: Reflections from Minnesota Alliance With Youth’s AmeriCorps Promise Fellows. ” Spring 2014.]

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