From the Heart: Lindsay Waxman
April 15, 2016
It was a fall afternoon when Sam and I had our first session at Ometz. We sat across from each other, and the “too cool for school” attitude filled the room. He did not bring a backpack, pencil case, or any school work. Over my past three years as a volunteer for the Ometz Taylor Adolescent Program, I have come across many students - each with their unique challenges and undeniable progress. However, there has been no journey as exciting as the one I am on right now. When I started working with Sam, his attendance was less than regular, and when he did come it took a lot of convincing to get him to work; he never remembered my name and appeared disinterested. I remained hopeful, because I saw huge potential in him. As each Tuesday and Thursday session went by, we began forming a relationship – getting to know one another better. The bond we had started building evoked progress, and Sam finally started bringing in his school work.
The progress began with one single worksheet. He pulled it out of his backpack, wrinkled and torn, and I could not have been happier. I never thought high school science would bring me so much joy. This was so much more than just a paper that he threw in the bottom of his bag; this was Sam’s first step towards taking control of his academic life and becoming an autonomous, independent learner. Over the course of the past few months, since the very first work sheet, our sessions have been filled with many worksheets, the occasional binder, cue cards, and even a textbook.
While these actions may seem trivial to others, these are huge steps for Sam. Many things in his life remain unstable and difficult, and it is a tremendous feat for him to focus on his academic life amidst all these struggles. Nonetheless, he comes into Ometz smiling, with hilarious stories and a “just cool enough for school” attitude. Not only does he remember my name, but we have developed a strong bond. We laugh, study, work on strategies, talk about his hardships, and he occasionally teaches me the newest and coolest dance moves.
The relationship I have with Sam has grown and evolved, and it is mutually beneficial. I am learning so much from him, and he is improving in terms of his responsibility and organization. I am thankful that the Ometz Taylor Adolescent Program is somewhere he can come to get a hot meal, feel safe and comfortable, and hopefully realize his full potential. It has been exciting, occasionally overwhelming, but at the end of the day, extremely gratifying to work with him. I know that this has been a very formative experience for me, and I believe the work we have accomplished together has done a lot of good for him, and that he will only continue to grow.
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