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Refusing to Give Up

October 20, 2011

Photo by Laura Slotkoff, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Reed Elementary

By Audrey Davidson, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Reed Elementary

Building strong relationships with our students is a central component of promoting positive change in the schools we serve because it sets the foundation for our work.

As City Year corps members we are encouraged to never lose sight of the human aspect of what we do. There are times however when the line between compassionate mentor and effective tutor becomes difficult to tow. I’ve found this balance to be most challenging during our first week working with small groups of students outside of class because we no longer have the disciplinarian support of the teacher to fall back on.  We are forced to figure out our own authority. 

Over the past months, I have worked hard to connect with every student in my class. However, a strong connection does not translate into instant success as a tutor. There is one student with whom I’ve been working regularly. While he has made incredible improvements—he has already moved up three reading levels— his willingness to work is inconsistent because he doesn’t believe that he can do it. He’s been told his whole life that he is slow, so our biggest battle is helping him recognize his own potential and intelligence. There are some days that he refuses to even look at his paper and I have to take him back to class with his head buried in his hands. On other days, he makes a conscious effort and gets nearly every answer correct.

In spite of these difficulties, I continue to work with him because I know I can be the one person in his life that refuses to give up on him.  


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