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Building trust with students

City Year has developed a strong culture of hard work, empathy, respect and understanding. This culture has been deliberately formulated to ensure that AmeriCorps members can have as large an impact as possible on the students we serve. I decided that I would share a story of impact from my time at Champion Middle School.

At City Year, we get the chance to form strong relationships with a lot of kids that provide both challenges and joys. One student on both my academic and behavior focus lists has experienced a lot of growth so far this year. At the beginning of the school year, it was very difficult to get him motivated. He would act out both in class and in the intervention space. During one of our early behavior interventions, when we were discussing trust, this student said that he didn’t trust anyone. He even looked at me and said that he didn’t trust me. At first, I was surprised, but I knew that building this relationship was a challenge I was up to.

Through one-on-one conversations with him, always encouraging him and reminding him that he was capable, I have been able to build a good relationship with him. In February during a behavior intervention, the students were going around in a circle talking about people they trust. When it came time for this student to speak, his answer was like night and day. “I trust City Year because they always help me get my work done,” the student said, “mostly just Mr. Jack.”

It was a really heartwarming moment for me. I am so proud of him and the growth that I’ve seen in him. At the beginning of the year, he had to be worked with step-by-step to get his assignments in class done. Now he is the one always completing his work and helping his fellow students to understand the assignment. In the intervention space, he has become a much more focused student, even though he still likes to joke around with me and the other students in his group. At the beginning of the year, he did not even want to come to our group tutoring sessions, but now he is my most frequent attendee and will even come to me to make up work that he has missed. There are several strong relationships that I have built with students here at Champion Middle School, but this is the one that I take the most pride in.

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