From the Heart: Stephanie Trigonakis
September 9, 2016
As a student studying psychology, I was looking to find some experience in the field in order to evaluate if I am on the right path. While doing some research online, I discovered Ometz. After reading about the organization on the website, I immediately applied to become a volunteer. I was contacted shortly after for an interview and was lucky to be paired so quickly with a young boy who lives near me. This made the process much more convenient for me since I did not have to travel far to meet my student.
It has been over a year since I met this very special boy named Tristan. He was extremely enthusiastic about working with me which made me appreciate how much he wishes to succeed in school. I began meeting him once or twice per week at his elementary school, during class time, to give him personalized attention with his work. During our first session, I discovered his struggle in believing that he can do well in French. He had a very negative attitude towards French and kept on repeating the phrase “I can’t”. I immediately encouraged him to get rid of those thoughts and instead to simply try his best. I realized that he needed a lot of encouragement and from then on, I began to praise every bit of effort that I would see from him.
He has attentional difficulties, and he often gets distracted or becomes extremely fidgety. In order to deal with these issues, we take multiple breaks during our sessions in order to give him a chance to exert some nervous energy and hopefully refocus on the task. Also, I always allow him some time to draw during our meetings since he loves it so much. He is a pretty good artist! We always try to find new fun ways to engage in the task. Lately, his concentration has drastically improved and he require less breaks.
Since I began working with him, he has been showing much improvement. I see in him so much potential for success. It is so rewarding to help a child reach their goals and feel more confident with their own abilities. He looks forward to our meetings every week which shows me how much he appreciates our time together. Now, I also tutor Tristan’s younger brother. I love working with both of these boys. They always make me smile. Becoming an Academic Mentor has taught me a lot. It is at times challenging to get their full concentration on a certain task. However, this experience has taught me to find alternative fun ways to learn. Many children suffer from learning disabilities or from other mental disorders. Volunteering at Ometz has allowed me to gain insight into what it is to actually deal with such issues, and has made me realize my passion for working with children to help them succeed despite any obstacles.
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