By Anny Lee, AmeriCorps member serving on the CSX team at The English High School
Sunbeams streamed into the room as students found their seats to work on their "Do Nows,” the warm up activity for the day’s lesson. But one soul sat with his arms crossed and his back turned away from the work and his fellow classmates. I slowly approached the student and introduced myself.
"Hi, my name’s Anny. What's yours?"
He replied, "David.*"
"Hi, David. It’s nice to meet you. Would you like to join us for class?" My question is met with silence.
"Is everything okay, David?" I asked.
He did not respond.
"Well, if there’s anything that you would like to talk about, I'm here," I said.
Then I just sat with him, in silence, for five minutes. When David turned back to me, he shared how he was not able to play on the football team because of his frequent tardiness. After we discussed how his tardiness could lead to further consequences, like not being able to be on the team for a whole season, he explained that he goes to bed at 9:00 p.m. but still arrives to school an hour late. Together, we then talked about how we could overcome this challenge.
It did not take long for David to set a goal and propose a solution—he planned to go to sleep an hour earlier in order to get to school an hour earlier. He understood that he had the power to change this outcome by making different choices. I then asked if we could get started on the class assignment, in order to help get him back on track for the day.
"Miss, I already know how to do this. It's so easy. It's all in my head." David retorted.
"Then show me. It has to be shown on the paper in order to get the credit."
He blazed through the entire page in about five minutes with the correct answers. This previously disengaged 10th-grader completed his classwork with impressive grace and concentration. And that was only the beginning.
The next day, my hope and joy for David rose even higher. He arrived at school on time! He proudly walked into the building, and when I caught his eye, he had a big smile on his face, a smile that I read as "I did it, Miss." This was only day one of many more school days to come, and I am looking forward to more interactions with David in his first period class, on time.
*Name changed to protect student privacy