My name is Orlando Verdecia and I PROUDLY serve as a City Year AmeriCorps member at Milwaukee Public Schools' South Division High School.

As a City Year corps member we are tutors, mentors and role models in the schools that we serve. Since the beginning of the year here at South Division High School, I have made it a personal goal to build positive relationships with the students who I work with. I believe that when working with students, you must first get to know them personally and develop a sense of trust so that students know that you truly care about them. I believe that when a student knows and understands that teachers and staff care about them that it makes all the difference.

Recently in my service, I’ve developed a strong relationship with one of my students. Robert is a student who I have been working with in his English class and in my small groups. At first Robert did not enjoy talking to me and would not ask for help, but after really talking to Robert and getting to know him, his attitude has changed completely. Now at school, Robert comes to see me every morning just to shake my hand and say hi. He also asks to work with me every day in class.

One day, I noticed that Robert did not seem like his normal self, seemed a bit down, and was having some trouble with other students. From this, I decided to write him a note asking him if everything was alright. At the end of my note I asked Robert to write a note back to me about why it is important to respect others and how he plans to do this. The next day he ran up to me and said he had written me back and would give it to me in class. Roberts message to me stated:

Mr. Orlando, I'm going to try and talk better. I just don't like when people get in my face. I’m trying my hardest to make my dad proud but it’s hard to concentrate but I really appreciate you trying to help me without even knowing me. Sometimes I just need to be outside the class and work with a teacher one on one. I promise next week I’ll stay after school.

To me, this was when I completely realized that I care about my students more than I ever thought I could and that my students see that. I see now just how much of a difference building positive relationships with students makes and am motivated even more to do so!





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