By Stephanie Resila, AmeriCorps member serving on the Gossler Park Elementary School Team.
It was in the first few weeks of school when I made a moment matter, and even today I continue to make it matter. I had seen this first grader throughout the first few weeks of school shut down emotionally and physically. As I was observing her in these beginning weeks, I saw a child who needed attention and affection.
One moment during afterschool recess, I saw this first grader running around and playing with her friends. When she ran past me, I simply said “Hi, Ashley!” She stopped in her tracks, turned around, and asked “how do you know my name?!” I responded with “because you’re a star, how could I not know your name?” In that simple moment she grabbed me and had me join her friends to play.
Ever since that moment, Ashley will come find me every morning she comes to school. I will walk with her to breakfast and then walk her to her classroom. On mornings where she is a little quiet or upset, I will give her a few minutes to help greet other students with me before starting her morning routine. On Tuesdays we have the Spirit Shop, where she will help me figure out money totals or how much change to give back to students.
Other City Years on my team will occasionally bring her to me when she is upset or call me down to meet with her as they know our connection. We will go on walks, or just sit there together silently. She recently asked me why I didn’t do lunch group with her and I told her that I do them with my fourth graders. That response wasn’t acceptable to her, and she asked if I could do lunch with her and a friend. After some thought, and discussion with her teacher, I decided to do lunch with her and a friend once a week if she was able to show positive behavior throughout the week. This helps her work towards goals, while also working on her behavior throughout the week. In addition, I create engaging and fun lunch group activities, so she can receive instruction on positive social skills.
While this story focuses in on one specific student, I am always making every moment matter with the students I serve in the fourth grade as well as in afterschool. I have a lunch group nearly every day; Leadership Lunch, Math Lunch Group, or Students of the Week, where I develop strong mentor/mentee relationships and show students that I care not only about their academics but about them as a person. I make sure to check-in with certain students every morning and I let them know I am there for whatever they may need that day. I also get silly with my students (when appropriate) to show them that it’s okay to have fun while learning!
If my simply being there makes Ashley’s day and my students’ days a little brighter, a little better, then I will gladly continue to go out of my way to support them as much as possible. These small moments can create some of the strongest relationships possible. The smallest moments can make the biggest impact on a child, which can change their outlook on themselves to ultimately lead to a better tomorrow.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
Interested in serving a year with City Year? Get in touch with a recruiter today! Our next application deadline is April 19th.