By Kayla Parr, AmeriCorps member, MFS Investment Management team serving at Dever-McCormack Middle School
As I sit down across from Alec* in the lunchroom after school, he rolls his eyes. He greets me like usual, by turning away from and ignoring me.
I sit quietly for a couple minutes and he pulls out his phone to watch a video.
“Can I watch with you?” I ask.
He doesn’t look up at me but he simply shrugs his shoulders—a gesture I’ve learned means “sure” in middle-school language.
I scoot next to him and he scoots the video between us. I express excitement as I ask him questions about what we are watching.
At first, he responded with simple, one-word answers. But the longer we watch, he is showing me one video after another and explaining to me all the different things he likes to do outside of school with his father. For the first time, I see him smile and begin to laugh as we joke around with one another.
We sit together until his bus arrives and I shake his hand before he leaves, thanking him for sharing his videos with me. As he walked away, I realized that even if we think students are ignoring us—they’re still learning and observing us. Each day of service is filled with many challenges and many successes. Each day that we are present for the students, we create building blocks that form a foundation for student-mentor relationships to grow stronger. Each day that we show students we care about who they are emphasizes that they have adults in their lives they can trust.
Each day we must arrive at our schools with an open heart and open mind because you never know what will be the beginning of connection.