Where to even begin…the past few days have been such a fantastic experience. On Tuesday we arrived in at Holy Family Lutheran School where we were each assigned to a different classroom/grade level. I was placed in the second grade classroom with 16 seven-eight year olds. Spending the past few days with them has been almost indescribable. The feeling of walking into a cafeteria early in the morning and having student after student run up to me yelling “Miss K! Miss K!” giving me giants hugs, completely overjoyed is simply heartwarming. From making copies of workbook sheets, to grading papers, to making signs for the classroom, and preforming other simple tasks for the teacher, the help is clearly appreciated. Having the opportunity to also work one-on-one with the kids and see them grow even in three days has only added to the experience. During our tour and introduction to the school we were given a brief background of the student body. We were told that many, if not most, of the students come from low-income families, few with two parents and many with a single grandparent raising them. Regardless of their home life and personal struggles, the school’s goal is to, for the day, help them forget about such things by giving them a place to come that they can be feel comfortable at and excited to go to. This great sense of community was most seen during chapel on Wednesday afternoon. One of my favorite experiences thus far, chapel at the school was so unique. With lots of singing, dancing, and yelling every student, pre-school to eighth grade, participated fully. At the end the principal assigned all the students a question for their weekly chapel reflection. Hearing the students back in the classroom talk about what they had learned at chapel and writing their chapel reflections shows that the school offers much more than an education.
After Holy Family, we took the bus a few blocks over to the Boys and Girls Club. A much different atmosphere, here I was assigned to help the 6-7 year old age group with different activities. As the days have passed, the progress of the kids has been substantial. The struggles and background of the kids at the Boys and Girls Club are certainly more evident. The contrast between the school and the boys and girls club has only made the learning experience for myself that much greater. With a little time and patience, there has been a great opportunities to make a strong impression on the kids at the club. They truly appreciate having us there and even in the short amount of time we have spent with them, see us all as role models, something the kids can never have enough of.
Leaving tomorrow and saying goodbye tomorrow will certainly not be easy. It is comforting to know, however, that even in a week I was able to leave a positive impression on the students and putting a few smiles on their faces just as they did for me.