Anna has tutored with Literacy First for the past two years and has taught nearly 40 children how to read. With the school year coming to a close, Anna had to say goodbye to her students this week.
“Recently, I graduated one of my students that I’ve had over the last two years, Jasminne. She and I worked together last year when she was in kindergarten, and I knew that when I came back that I wanted to work with her again. We formed a great bond last year as she learned her letter sounds because she’s always so happy and so excited to learn. Jasminne is one of those kids that you get excited about working with, and makes you feel less grumpy when you wake up at 6am to get to work on time.
As the year progressed, I really saw her improve and become an amazing reader. First grade is an interesting year because it’s the year when students learn to truly “read.” It is almost like a lightbulb goes off in their heads and they go, “Ohhhh, this is what you wanted me to do!” and then they just take off. I’ll have a kid who is plodding along, and then all of a sudden his scores shoot up and he’s reading on his own. Jasminne was one of those kids: one day she just started getting it. She made reading look as easy as breathing. I was so happy when her scores started getting closer and closer to our requirements for graduation. The work she and I had been doing all year was starting to pay off: she was reading. But at the same time, I was sad because I knew our time together was coming to a close.
This little kiddo, whom I have spent the better part of two years getting to know, who likes to bring me presents and draw me pictures, who always makes me laugh, wasn’t going to be a part of my everyday life once she graduated from Literacy First. I’ll still see her in the hallway or in her classroom when I go to pick up another student, but we won’t have that 30 minutes everyday for just the two of us. And that made me realize how much I would miss her.
Plus, it was one of the first times that when it hit me that I won’t be coming back next year, and that my second year of service was coming to an end. Last year, I could always tell myself that I had another year coming up, and that I would see these kids again. It wasn’t really goodbye, it was just a “See ya later.” But this time around, I’m saying goodbye. I know I can always come back and visit or volunteer in the school, but that isn’t the same as being a part of these kids’ days and seeing them all the time — asking how their weekend was, or seeing the little progressions in their education. It made me realize that two years with this amazing program and with these amazing kids is coming to an end.
For me, Jasminne’s graduation was the first of many goodbyes that will symbolize the end of my time in AmeriCorps, and the end of this important period of my life. Service with AmeriCorps and Literacy First has been my “gap year” experience, and it has been an amazing one. But I know that even if I am involved with a non-profit or volunteering after this year ends, it won’t be the same as giving two years to national service. It will be my job. It’s sad to be saying goodbye to this time in my life and moving onto something new…but I’m looking forward to my next adventure!”