February 13, 2018
The Lemon Grove School District, where I’m interning with United Way this year, serves a variety of children from diverse backgrounds. I am now familiar with the staff, already feel a part of the school, and believe that I am making a difference in the students’ lives. I admit I was very nervous at first, but my supervisors have been right by my side, guiding me and teaching me new things.
I have grabbed students’ attention by making colorful designs and placing them on the bulletin board to message the importance of being in school every day. The visiting United Way Attendance H.E.R.O.s have also emphasized regular attendance so that the students can become superheroes just like them.
One of my favorite experiences so far has been working with a six-year-old girl who had struggled with absences last school year. Her mother, who was pregnant at the time, took care of other children, and transportation was sometimes an issue. When I first met this young girl, she looked around, wouldn’t make eye contact, and didn’t pay attention. She responded to my questions using one-word answers.
In our first couple of sessions, I addressed her absences by discussing the importance of school and the consequences of missing too much of it. I continued to work with her by doing activities, talking one-on-one, and putting her in a group to start building relationships. When she was placed in a girl power group—which helps empower young girls who struggle with self-esteem, depression, academic achievement, and other challenges—everything turned around. She became more interactive: she joined the group with a happy face and started having long conversations, even wanting to spend more time in the group after the session was over. What’s more, she started making eye contact and became respectful and polite. She said she liked coming to the group sessions to have time with me and mentioned that she was committed to improving her attendance this year. True to her word, four months into the school year, she has only had one absence!
Our sessions became more engaging, entertaining, and special because I had earned her trust. I know that she is counting on me to provide support. Seeing the change in this student, I feel as if I am doing the job I’m here to do.
I love helping students and their families. Every day as an intern I get to learn and gain experience.
Every Student, Every Day Intern
United Way of San Diego County