By Alyssa Kai Downer, Corps Member, Walmart Team at Stevenson Middle School
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” -Robert Lewis Stevenson
As you arrive at Robert Lewis Stevenson Middle School you may notice this quote and an image of the writer on the parking lot wall. As City Year members, I believe that we should embrace these words in our work. We must judge our days by the seeds that we are planting. We are here to make a difference and although we may not get the opportunity to reap the harvest, we are encouraged to plant the seeds.
My team, the Walmart Team at Stevenson Middle School, strives to make an difference to our students no matter how big or small it may seem. Like other City Year teams, we consist of corps members from all sorts of backgrounds. Each of us have our own story to tell and experiences to share, and we are working collectively to use our various talents to plants the seeds at Stevenson.
A great example of this is one of our students, George*. A teammate and I were struggling with getting through to him in our after school program. George never did his homework, had behavior issues, and was what we would call a ‘wanderer’ – he never stayed put! We tried coming up with activities to engage George, ranging from drawing to reading and more. Nothing seemed to work. As time went on, we became frustrated and felt like we were not paying enough attention to the needs of the rest of our students.
We knew we needed help and that’s when the rest of our team came together to get George on task. First, there was my teammate Ceasar. Ceasar made a deal with George. If he behaved for just a few days then he would get to wear Ceasar’s bomber. Excited about this possibility, George accepted the deal proceeded to behave better. Then my team leader Dominque convinced George to shadow her around our after school program, deterring him from wandering about. Our big breakthrough was when three of my teammates helped George create and star in a music video for our Music Club’s final lesson. George really enjoyed having a role on our team. It took a village but soon enough we started to see George change in a positive way. He has started helping us pass out snacks and collect attendance; he has even been doing his homework. It took a lot of patience and positive reinforcement, but we are cherished every small victory. And because of it, we are seeing George change and grow every day.
Our team has learned to celebrate the process of change with all of our students. As we move forward with our service year, we always remind ourselves that as City Year members, we are here to be seed planters – tutoring, motivating and inspiring students so they can one day lead successful lives -and that is a beautiful thing.
*student’s name changed