At the beginning of the year, Kristin, one of the students who I serve in an 8th grade pre-algebra classroom, became a regular at our Homework Unlimited Before School (HUBS) Club.

I am a math enthusiast and downright gleeful when learning new math theorems. Kristin openly hated math. It was an unlikely partnership.

However, our inability to understand one another based on our enjoyment or hate of math alone, allowed us to find other common ground, understanding each other as caring individuals.

In working with Kristin almost every morning for that first nine week grading period, I got to know her as both a caring daughter and sister who devoted herself to her family and a diligent math student. As a daughter, Kristin goes to great lengths to support those she loves, caring for her younger, physically disabled sister, and older, mentally handicapped stepbrother. As a student, Kristin has strong work ethic and a desire to learn. The thing she lacked from the very beginning was confidence.

Through serving as a non-judgmental ear and support, Kristin and I built a relationship in which she trusted me as someone who would always be there to listen and help her as a student. Through encouraging Kristin every step of the way and cheering on her progress consistently, Kristin’s confidence grew and she began participating in class and improving her grades. Nothing brightens my day more than seeing Kristin, the girl who hated math, smile when she answers a problem correctly and assists her classmates in finding the answer.

Kristin is one of the reasons I look forward to serving every day. She is a reminder of the strength possessed by each student and the power each student has to determine his or her destination. It has been an honor to get to know such an incredible and inspiring student and to forge such a successful, though unlikely, partnership.

Written by Julia Baird, proud AmeriCorps Member serving on the CSX Team at Northwestern Middle School


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