Project MARS/AmeriCorps collects “Great Stories” from its members in which they reflect on their experiences mentoring in the classroom and the progress they see students making. This month’s story was written by Grace Van Der Meid.
“I’ve been working diligently with one student in the tree house. Every day we’ve been taking out 30 minutes to do ELA studies, which has been a lot for her but she has grown so much from this.
“When I first came in, she was barely saying many words and didn’t have much of an idea of pronunciation. When I work with her every day, I make sure to help her understand exactly what I’m saying each time. It’s amazing to see her copy my words and say them again to me. I’ve also worked with the teachers to create communication boards for her which has really helped her to show us what she wants instead of just pointing or handing us an item that she expects us to open or do something with.
“One moment that was really amazing to me was when she went to her communication board and took off an item that she needed and handed it to us when we weren’t paying attention. It felt like such a win and was so amazing to see her grow.
“One thing in particular that she loves is music and dancing. I dance with her every day when she is at school and try to get her to sing the songs that she loves. She loves the song “Baby Shark.” She knows to say “Baby Shark” and “music” when she wants to listen to those things. I love seeing her grow and being able to understand how to count and ask for things that she needs to communicate. It is such an important tool for these kids. I’m so grateful to help her understand how to do that.
“I feel like I’ve become invested in her growth, so every day we work hard together to make sure she’s learning what she needs.”