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The Story Behind the Data

February 7, 2012

Ms. TaiQuay

By TaiQuay Smith, Corps Member Proudly Serving on the Sarah T. Reed High Team

When Service Team Leader Michael Cohn-Geltner informed me that of the entire Reed HS team my “Focus List” students showed the most academic improvement after working a semester with me, I was first and foremost humbled. Then the feeling of pride began to rise in my heart. I was not proud of myself but more so of my students. MCG asked, “How’d you do it? I’d like you to write an article for the blog.”   Again, I was taken aback because honestly there is no scientific or analytical method to my madness. I love my students and the work I do with and for them. Maybe that was why the polls rang in my favor. However, I will share my daily mantras for students’ success and personal sanity.

“Treat students as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of becoming”. I realized and still face daily the disappointments of my students not being treated as if they are the future teachers, doctors, lawyers and even presidents.  I make it a point to show my students their value daily. For example, I constantly remind my students that their hard work and dedication is appreciated. “Thank you John. You’ve made Ms. TaiQuay’s  job a lot easier. And, because you have put in so much hard work, I’m sure that when you’re the top veterinarian (strangely enough this occupation is the number one desire of more than half the students I work with) in NOLA, I’ll be sure to bring you my puppy. ”  That went a lot further than, “This is school and this is what you’re supposed to do.” Allow the students you tutor and mentor to hear you speak of the possible and positive things they can and will be.

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” Many students in low income high needs schools lack the knowledge of the freedom that lies in the world that exists outside of their daily reality. Therefore, every chance I get I tell them about places I’ve traveled to in the 50 states.  Every time they inquire about what college is like, I tell them of the random road trips, late nights in the library in my PJs and endless study breaks, combined with the joy of college graduation day (but you can’t forget the PARTIES). I show them pictures and boast about how “EDUCATION” granted me the will and power to go places and do bigger things. Then, I tie it all back to the assignment they are currently working on. Oh the place you will go if you could just finish this (insert class here) assignment.

“I pray to be like the ocean, with soft currents, maybe waves at times. I want the consistency rather than the highs and the lows.In retrospect, the success of my students thus far has not been easy on me or the students.  It’s been a combination of highs and lows. Many of the struggles have been battled both inside and outside of the classroom. I learned and adapted to the fact that in the process of laying the foundation and setting conditions for their success, there would be and still remain days where the students will scream “I’m not doing any work today!” “What’s the point?”,  “I ain’t going nowhere in life so why waste my time?” As upsetting as this is to hear, I continue to communicate to the student that we all have our bad days and despite their aggressive, negative remarks,  I still am and will remain in their corner and at their side. I believe the students respect corps members who show perseverance, consistency, and resilience, and as a result you get a ripple of effort which can be proved in data.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 8, 2012 9:34 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your “secrets to success”. As a Corps Member in Miami serving on the inaugural high school team I encountered youth, whom like you mentioned, would say heartbreaking things like, “what’s the point” or “why do you care about me so much?” It was devastating to hear the student’s lack of self-confidence and ambition at times. I too would empower them by letting them know I believed in them and could see their unlimited potential, and would always be “in their corner” as a support. It truly is phenomenal the impact and relationship that a Corps Member is able to have with students from demonstrating consistency in their service and dedication to their mentees. I wish you the best of luck in finishing your year strong and thank you for your year of service. Bianca Brown, Recruitment Project Leader City Year Miami.

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