Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task. ~Haim G. Ginott
When I first learned about Citizen Schools, I wasn't 100% sold on the idea of working in the afternoon in an "after-school" program. It seemed like there wouldn't be much substance, just basketball and snacks. It wasn't until I arrived on campus that I learned it's actually so much more! Unfortunately, I know that many of you won't ever get a chance to come to campus, so I wanted to share with you one particular story about a young lady that has touched me and made me believe in the power of the work I do.
Jessica is a 6th grade student who escaped my radar last semester. She wasn't exactly loudspoken, but there were a few behavior incidences here and there. She wasn't a bad kid, but she would have moments where she would blow up at students and teachers with a relentless negative attitude. A few weeks ago, her team leader shared with the rest of the staff that a few students were being particulary difficult to her that day and one of them was Jessica. She had been completely disrespecful in class, even making fun of the team leader in front of the other students. I remember thinking to myself that it was just another manifestation of Jessica's attitude problems and didn't give it too much thought.
About a week after that, I was standing to the side as Jessica's team was lining up to go to class when she started to get into a heated argument with another girl. They shouted and pushed at each other until finally Jessica got mad enough that she left the line, came over to me, and asked if either she or the other girl could get switched to another team. So I took that opportunity to explain to Jessica a few things about life. We talked about how there would always be some people in your life that you didn't always agree with or get along with, but you still had to treat them with respect. I explained to her that having a bad attitude with people was the easiest way to NOT get what you wanted. And then I asked her to be patient with her team leader and to give her a chance.
An hour later, Jessica pulled me aside and told me something amazing! She told me that she worked out things with the girl she was having problems with. She showed me a note that they had passed to each other expressing how each felt about the other and then they created a friendship contract. It was just amazing to see this girl who has always been negative and fought with teacher and students take the initiative to work things out with another student. And I really believe that it was partially in part due to my conversation with her earlier that day.
Jessica is only one of the many students that I see have amazing transformations with our program. Some students grow right before our very eyes in one day or in one situation. Others take a little bit longer and we only see the changes slowly over the course of a year or more. And I believe there are even those who we have made an impact on but won't see the benefits of it at all during our time with them. In any case, I have no doubt that all of these under-privileged students need caring, adults in their lives, but we can't do that without the financial support to continue to run program.
I know this year has been a particularly hard year for all of us financially and it is even more so within the non-profit realm. Please consider donating to help keep this amazing program running. Any amount will do as even $5 will be a great help! On top of that, donating through this website is simple, fast and totally secure (Not to mention tax-deductible).
The urgency of what we do really hit home for me when I recently read a quote from a student on our mid-year survey. When asked to tell us a story about their experience in Citizen Schools they had said, "Without this great program, I would be home bored and alone with nothing to do." I really hope you will join me in supporting students like that who really need this program.
With much love and immense gratitude,