Editor’s Note: These profiles are reposted from Minnesota Alliance for Youth Promise Fellows. If you would like to become a Promise Fellow, applications are being accepted now.
AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at White Bear Lake Area High School
One of my students shared a letter with me in which she expressed that I was one of the few adults in the school that genuinely meant it when I asked her how she was doing. She really appreciated that I was able to jump in and help students during AVID time even if neither of us knew what was going on. And most of all she said that she welcomed my attitude towards the students — how I treated them more as equals than as students. I feel as if that is the main goal of the Promise Fellow position as a whole. It gives us the opportunity to empathize with both students and teachers and bridge the gap between these two roles. All throughout reading this I had a giddy smile on my face. It is rare that a student will express their appreciation towards you to your face, but when they do it makes it mean so much more.
Emily, AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at Northfield High School
A student who is usually uninspired to do homework came into our office this week during her study hall. She was nervous about a presentation on Greek mythology that she was supposed to give during the next class period. She told me she was thinking about skipping class with her friends in order to avoid giving the presentation. We talked about what the consequences would be if she did that and how it probably would not help her in the long run. Instead of skipping, I offered to help her prepare so she would feel more confident. As we worked on her presentation together, she realized she knew more than she thought she did about the topic. Later that day she told me she ended up not having to present but, unlike her friends who skipped, received all her “accountability points” because she showed up to class. The day after, she told me she presented and got a nearly perfect score for her work. I was really encouraged to know that my small nudge was likely what prevented this student from skipping class. It was a reminder that even the smallest support can help a student realize their potential.
Toe, AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at Saint Paul Harding High School (with the Sanneh Foundation)
One particular student at Harding High School in St. Paul was in search of a place. He was previously expelled from his old school and already was getting into trouble and making bad first impressions to both his fellow students and staff. He was slowly slipping and if he would of kept on regressing the way he was; in no time, he most likely would of have started looking for another new school again. Fortunately, our staff noticed this sense of belonging and started relationship building. Take school away from the equation and start talking about what he liked, crack a few jokes here and there, make him smile, and give the student a chance to express himself. Eventually, he starts attending our after school program and is now one of our regulars. He now has found his place; a place where he is accepted for who he is, a place where he is wanted, a place where he can call home.