By Danielle Doolittle, AmeriCorps member serving on the Comcast NBCUniversal team with Jeremiah E. Burke High School

Dear Student,

I started the year handing you pencils in Geometry, checking in with you about your work even when you refused to respond to me. We’ve come a long way from the early days of me asking you to pick your head up off the desk during class and consistently telling you to put your phone away. I remember the day you began asking me for help in math. You then began to say hello back to me in the hallways and I got to see you smile more and more each day.

The best part of my day is when I run into you in the hallways, when you ask me to walk you to class so we can continue our conversation, and when we eat lunch together in the cafeteria two days a week. You are full of energy and light that radiates when you laugh and make everyone around you smile. During one of our first lunches, you asked me why I chose to serve with City Year and I explained my interest in education and it turned into a conversation about opportunity gaps within the education system in our society. I just wanted to say thank you for engaging me in thoughtful, challenging dialogue; you bring positivity and hope to all of my days.

I also clearly remember the lunch conversation we had about your history with school. You are older for your current grade due to some setbacks earlier on in your education yet you don’t let that deter you from your personal and professional goals. We often talk about how you want to be the first person in your family to graduate from college, how you are interested in medicine, and how much you enjoy science. I have had the privilege of learning more about your growth not only as a student but also as a human being. I recognized how brave you are to have made the conscious decision to leave your family in New York in order to put yourself in a better learning environment here in Boston. You’ve made sacrifices at a young age to ensure your own success.

You are actively choosing to take your education into your own hands and I am so proud of the accomplishments you have made this year. You are bold. You are vibrant. You are intelligent. I appreciate the love you show me daily through your smiles, your hellos, your check ins, your good conversation. You light up when you tell me about a success you’ve achieved such as getting a job or improving your grade in History. Let me repeat: I. Am. Proud. Of. You. You are strong and you have put yourself on a path to achieve your goals. Thank you for letting me be part of this incredible journey with you this year.

With Love,

Ms. D

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