Written by Jondell Taylor, current AmeriCorps Member serving at Leataata Floyd Elementary School.
I almost didn’t graduate from college on time. I had stopped paying attention in class and was not doing my work. Then I stopped going to class altogether. I almost lost my scholarship because my GPA was suffering. I met with my professor who pointed out that she had noticed my decline. She asked me what was going on and how she could help.
I’ve had the same interactions with some of my students. Students who, at the beginning of the year were completing all of their work. Students that actively participated in class. Students that I began to worry about when they weren’t doing all of their work. My starfish, for example, began to consistently come to school tardy around the middle of September. Her participation level had also gone down. She was added to my attendance focus list, but before I could let her know and begin coaching conversations she stopped coming to school. She was gone for about a month before she returned. Grades were due to come out in two weeks and she didn't have any. My partner teacher had given my student a big packet of everything that she needed to make up so that she wouldn't have a failing report card. After seeing the look of defeat on her face as she stared at the packet, I asked my student if she wanted to work on it together. She told me yes, so I asked her if she would be willing to come to school on a Saturday so we could concentrate on everything she needed to do. She excitedly told me yes again! The student, my program manager, and I met at school for two Saturdays in a row in order to get my student caught up on all of her work. Her attendance slowly became more consistent, and she recently came to school on time and early for an entire week!
I serve because of the student that I once was and for students like my starfish; the ones that have lost hope and feel as though the battle has already been won. I serve with the hope that all of my students know that they have an advocate fighting for them no matter what.