Make a Difference

My Make a Difference story begins last year (2010-11) as I student-taught in the 6th grade at the school I am currently serving with AmeriCorps. I had one student (among others) who never had her homework completed. She wouldn't make up an excuse for not doing her homework; she just would say she was sorry and that it wasn't done. She would even offer to serve a lunch detention for not doing it. I remember being told that her reading level was pretty low and assumed that was the reason for not doing the language arts assignments.
Toward the end of the first marking period of this year, I was given access to grades. I looked at all of my students grades and noticed that this particular student was getting a B- in math! I was very thrilled but was concerned about how she would do on a test without my help. After she took the first math test, I told her to tell me how it went as soon as she found out. I asked the math teacher the next day and found out that she got a B- on it! I ran to congratulate her and she was already on her way to tell me. She was so proud of herself and I was so proud of her. The next day she told me that her parents didn't even believe her.

After that, she started to tell me that she kind of likes math now. She tells other people that it isn't so bad. Sometimes she will tell me that her parents don't care if she does any of her homework and I would say, “Guess who does care." She replies, "You do." If she doesn't have her homework done she will offer to stay after school to do it in homework room.

I could not be more proud of my student. Just this one student makes my whole experience with AmeriCorps worthwhile. One student has made me see, clearly, the value of volunteer service.

-Ashley, 2011-2012 Superior AmeriCorps member

At this point in both the school year and the service year, everyday runs pretty much the same. I see the same students every day; they are used to me, I am used to them, nothing ever changes right? Wrong!

Yes, I see the same students every day, but no day is ever the same!! You never know what is going to come out of their mouths! I have numerous seniors; some are in Odyssey (a computer generated learning tool) some are not. At this point in the year they are checking out. They have come down with senioritis.
The best definition I have found is:

"Senioritis - A crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletic shorts, and sweatshirts. This also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as Graduation."

This fits seniors to a T. However, I have a few that have "senioritis" but can't stop or even slow down due to suffering from "pre-senioritis." For the most part my seniors have put it in overdrive and are pushing ahead to graduate. Seeing the excitement they have, sharing their future plans with me, asking for my help with college applications, scholarship applications, and what to expect in college is a great feeling! They are sharing their lives and future plans with me; I have a wall of photos that students have given me, broken up into classes. My senior wall has the most. I have gotten numerous graduation invites, and I will be chaperoning the senior class alcohol-free, all-night party.

To be involved with such a wonderful group of young people is an honor that I will never forget. My life has been changed forever. 

-Serena, 2011-2012 Superior AmeriCorps member