Each quarter, AmeriCorps collects “Great Stories” from our 18 members throughout the region about their experiences assisting regional youth in their classrooms.
This month’s story comes from AmeriCorps member Jennifer Mathis:
The excitement I felt coming into my school and beginning my service year is indescribable. I’d heard stories from other members about their activities with students and the mentoring happening at their school, but nothing could have prepared me for experiencing it all first hand.
I had a long list of under-resourced students in my school when I first arrived, and made it my mission to visit each of them as quickly as possible so that they could grow comfortable around me and I could properly identify the resources for success that they required. Immediately, I developed a bond with a young girl named Daisy. Daisy was loud and very obviously eager to be the center of attention when I walked into the classroom. Always bright and bubbly when skipping down the hallways on her way to lunch. She told me she liked to skip because she could see her hair bouncing from side-to-side when she did; her long white-blonde hair that caused me to call her ‘Goldilocks,’ which would always make her smile. Then again, it was rare that I ever saw her without a smile on her face.
That was until the day I saw her crying in the nurses office. Instantly, I was tense and concerned for Daisy; to see a child as happy as she was crying her heart out, I was very anxious. I looked around the adjoining main office to ask someone why Daisy was with the nurse, but found that the school secretary, guidance counselor, and vice principal were all on the phone. I impatiently waited for someone to get off of the phone, and literally sighed in relief when the counselor set her phone back on the hook.
“Daisy?” Was all I asked her.
Shaking her head in obvious frustration, the counselor told me. “Lice. And no one at home will answer their phones. We’re all trying, but no one will answer.”
I could see this was weighing on her, and when I asked how long Daisy had been in the office, she told me she’d been in the nurses office since she walked into school; which was four hours earlier. I understood her frustration. Poor Daisy, sitting miserably with the nurse, and no one answering the phone so they could come get her.
I sat and thought of how sad Daisy was already, and how even more upset she’d be when I would tell her that her school based Big Sister wouldn’t be able to visit her because she had to stay at the nurses station. I glanced over to the nurses office to see her sniffling, trying to hold back her tears, when I heard the school secretary make a shout of victory from her desk.
Thank goodness for our resources.
Since Daisy and her older brother Daniel are community based members of Big Brothers Big Sisters, their father added Daniel’s Big Sister to the school pick up list so she’d be able to take them from school. And she answered the phone when we called.
When Daisy heard that Anna, the big sister, would be picking her up from school, that big smile I’d grown to adore appeared on her face once more.
“I like when I get to see Anna.” She told me.
And just like that, her itchy, uncomfortable head had been momentarily forgotten, and she started telling me about all the fun things she, Anna, and Daniel always do. And when she came back to school a week later, with her once long blonde hair now cut above the shoulder, she smiled and told me that her hair still bounced, she just had to skip a little higher to make it do so.
It was in that moment that I realized, nothing could prepare me for this service that I’m allowed to be apart of. It’s just something that has to be experienced.