As my year of service begins to wind down, I am struck by the (unsurprising) notion of how much I have grown to care about my students. Every day brings some sort of success, new joke, or other connection. June is here, and a new City Year team will fill my boots at the Harbor next year, so I am striving to make each and every day with my students count. As I reflect on the year thus far, I realize how far I have come since the Summit Partners team entered the Harbor in September.
Before the start of my City Year, I had mostly worked with very young elementary school children. I thought middle schoolers were moody and angst-ridden and frankly, kind of scary; I admired the kind of patience and resilience it must take to get through to students at such a seemingly volatile age.
During my last semester of college, when a professor of mine learned that I was serving with City Year after graduation, he told me he thought I’d be successful working with middle school students—I thought he was crazy. However, as the start date approached, I thought more about his advice and realized that there was no better time for me to step outside my comfort zone and try to connect with a new age group of students. I realized that serving in a middle school would allow me to broaden my horizons, as well as provide a positive and consistent role model for students going through a sometimes difficult age.
Though I struggled making connections with my students toward the start of the school year, in the end I am so grateful that I took my professor’s advice. Every day my students surprise me with insightful comments and make me laugh out loud with their humor and wit. I am enormously proud of their accomplishments and how much they have grown not only as students, but as emerging young adults.
At age twelve, I couldn’t wait to be done with middle school. Ten years later, I don’t want to leave. I appreciate the wonderful students at the Harbor Pilot Middle School for opening my eyes and showing me that middle schoolers really aren’t so scary after all.