Written by NESS SEA AmeriCorps Member Megan Murray
“It was the 2nd week of my 4th cycle of mentoring at Winthrop STEM Elementary Magnet School. The students were at their desk eating their Cheez-Its and the room was filled with noise. The door to the room opened slightly and a little boy with a big grin came strolling in. ‘Benjamin, sit here,’ the teacher said as Benjamin took a seat in the back corner of the room. For the next four weeks, Benjamin came to our classroom and took a seat in the back of the room, often talking to himself, playing with his glasses, or examining the wrappers in the trash can. Three days into our classes, we came to understand that Benjamin was a kindergartner who couldn’t participate in his own enrichment class because he was too disruptive towards other students.
So for this cycle, he would sit silently on our enrichment class with our paraprofessional and observe our second graders. Over time, I would slip Benjamin a piece of paper and colored pencils so he could join the 2nd grade students in playing interactive games. Eventually, Benjamin was displaying better and better behavior and grew to regularly participate in this 2nd grade enrichment. As our cycle came to an end, I realized the next enrichment class we were mentoring was Benjamin’s homeroom class.
That following Monday afternoon marked the beginning of our next enrichment class with Benjamin’s homeroom. Given that he couldn’t participate in his own homeroom’s previous enrichment class, I was not sure if he would be participating in this enrichment class. However, when I walked into the room, there was Benjamin! He came running over to me and gave me the biggest hug while saying, ‘I missed you!’
Benjamin helped me recognize how crucial it is for some students to just have an extra person around to support them academically, socially, and emotionally to make their day at school a success.”