Today’s guest blogger is Ste-Aira Hatchett, currently serving on the JHS 13 team in East Harlem. Ste-Aira shares why she serves and where she draws motivation to work hard everyday.
Going to school in Cleveland, I was like many of the students I work with today: off track, poor behavior, and lacking in self-confidence. My middle school years were the hardest and this is when I could have fallen behind if it wasn’t for one teacher who took a special interest in me. Ms. Williams, opened my eyes and helped me learn to appreciate myself and build a foundation for my future. Going to college is not the norm for my family and she was the one that helped me get in to college. It took just one person to help me understand the value of my education and because of Ms. Williams I feel obligated to help others.
After graduating from college, I joined City Year, and now serve at JHS 13 in East Harlem with 9 other corps members. We are in our school every day from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm, working with students who are off track in attendance, behavior, and course performance in math and English, and running after school programs. The most exciting part about my service is watching the academic and behavior progress of my students. There is one student, Sean, who was placed on my focus list that I have built a special relationship with.
Sean is in a classroom for students who are struggling with behavior and academics. While he is a very smart kid, he is falling behind his peers because he is constantly fighting with other students or arguing with his teachers. Early in our relationship he confided in me that he doesn’t trust adults because so many of the adults in his life have left him. It is because of this I make it a priority to check in with him every day and give him the extra attention that he needs to be successful in school.
A goal of Sean’s is to be removed from his remedial class and join the rest of his friends in their 8th grade classrooms. As I tutored him, I quickly realized that he was capable of doing the work but he was still acting out in class. In every tutoring session I reminded him that if he can control his temper and behave in class, he will eventually reach this goal.
Slowly his teachers began to see an improvement in the way Sean was acting in class. He was egger to answer questions and rarely called out. Now when he is getting bullied he comes to me and we are able to find a constructive ways for him to deal with his temper.
My most rewarding day at City Year was when Sean found me in the lunch room and told me that he was removed from his remedial class and has been moved to mainstream rotations with the rest of the 8th grade. Behaving well in class can still be a challenge for Sean, but I can see the improvement he has made and I’ve never seen him so happy to be in school. I was so proud when he told me that he now feels like a role model for his 6th grade brother, who is also faces many of the same behavior challenges.
Sean and the rest of the students I work with every day are a reflection of me and that is what motivates me to show up and help my students succeed. It is my job as their City Year corps member to celebrate every one of their small victories and help push them to reach the ultimate goal of graduating from high school, college and career ready.