By: Christine Olding
As you realize, City Year is full of a multitude of small traditions that make us who we are as an organization. One of those traditions is something called a Starfish Story. A Starfish Story is something all of us Corps members encounter on an almost daily basis. It is, essentially, a story of how we have touched or changed a student that we work with. This week, for my blog entry, I will be describing one of my starfish stories. It has to do with the relationship that I have with one of my 4th grade boys, Michael. His name has been changed, but the meaning has not.
When I first met Michael, I knew our relationship was going to be an uphill battle. It was the first day I had received my class placement; I was the City Year member in both of the 4th grade classrooms. I walked into Mr. Mitchell’s 4th grade classroom at roughly 1:30 P.M.; I set up shop in the back behind the back row of students. I had noticed that one of the students was sleeping and when he wasn’t sleeping he was drawing and not giving his full attention to the teacher. I calmly approached him and asked him to stop, of course, he refused. I asked him again, this time he replied with a few choice words for me and stormed out of the room. Over the next few weeks, I attempted to talk with Michael and see how his day was going, he did one of two things: 1. He would ignore me completely or 2. He would respond by saying “Oh my GODDDDDD LEAVE ME ALONE!” It wasn’t until I began my 50 Acts group that our relationship truly began to change.
A few weeks back, I wrote a blog describing our 50 Acts behavior initiative. In case you forgot, here is a quick reminder. 50 Acts allows us, as a team, to work with the most behaviorally challenged students in the school by teaching them how to appropriately deal with their emotions and show them how to become leaders within their schools and communities. Seeing as how Michael has had more than his fair share of behavior issues throughout his time at my school, he was one of the students in my 50 Acts group.
On the first day of 50 Acts, Michael began talking to me, openly and honestly. To tell you the truth, I was shocked about this; I never really thought he would respond so well to “Miss Christine’s Secret Lunch Crew”. Telling me about the differing problems he faced at home and at school. Each week he would come to the group with a new story of how he had done something nice or good for someone else. With each passing week, he began opening up more and more to me. To the point that he even came up to me at recess one day to tell me how he walked away from a fight and how he felt about the situation. At the end of that conversation, he hugged me. I had never felt so proud before. I was amazed by how much he and our relationship had grown.
Though, Michael still has his rough days, he still comes up to me every Wednesday with a big smile and says, “Miss Christine, you coming to get me today?” Every time he asks me, I smile and respond with, “Of course Michael!” I know that he still has major obstacles to overcome concerning his behavior, however, the strides he has made in the past few weeks is truly outstanding. I can honestly sit here and say that Michael is by far, one of the most amazing children I have ever met. Thank you Michael, for being an outstanding starfish.