By Claire Levin, AmeriCoprs member at Fullerton School of Academics, City Year Cleveland
My name is Claire Levin and I proudly serve at Fullerton School of Academics in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood.
At the beginning of the year, I began working with a student named Briannah*, she is one of the biggest personalities in the whole 4th grade, for all the best and worst reasons. She brings our classroom to life with her laughter and her awesome dance moves. At the same time, when she grows frustrated, her negativity radiates outward, bringing other students down with her. At times, she would even storm out of the room huffing and puffing, undermining my partner teacher's authority in the school space.
In the event of one of her "meltdowns," we began to work together. We started to go out into the hall, talk through her aggravations and sometimes take a lap around the 2nd floor of the school. On these walks, we talked through other ways she can handle the situation in order to express her feelings without getting herself in trouble in the process.
As we continued to work together, she slowly began to trust me. She saw that I cared about her and that I wasn't going anywhere. After several months of these walk-and-talks, she began to speak up for herself in a positive way. I still, sometimes, have to remind her to pull herself back but the progress she has made is very clear. Just the other day, I overheard her talking with another student about a problem they were going through regarding bullying in the classroom. Briannah shared logical advice, echoing so many of the conversations we have shared together. I'm so happy to see her progress and the impact she is having on our classroom. One of the greatest compliments I have ever received whole life is when she told me she considers me to be one of her role models. To her surprise, I responded saying that she was one of mine as well!
*The student name has been changed to conceal the identity of the student involved.