In celebration of AmeriCorps week, I want to share a story of an honorary Junior Coach, who I have had the pleasure to work with in the past 6 months.
As an AmeriCorps member working in a low income school in Portland, I work with more than 450 kids from all different backgrounds. Jose* is one of one of those kids. I remember his character and very strong willed personality when I first met him. At recess, he was the kid that tried to run everything and yelled at other kids if they didn’t do what he wanted. A lot of the arguments he had at recess would trickle back into the classroom and cause unwanted interrupted class time. When time came around to pick my 15 Junior Coaches, his teacher recommend Jose. His teacher expressed that Jose would benefit greatly from this opportunity and would allow him to take his natural leadership skills to be help others at recess and in the classroom. Unfortunately, when offered a spot he was unable to join because he couldn’t stay after school for trainings. I didn’t want an opportunity to go to waste, so instead I created a new title for Jose. At Cesar Chavez School we have 15 Junior Coaches, but Jose became the Honorary16th Junior Coach. Three times a week Jose comes out to recess with positive energy ready to serve, mentor, and lead younger kids on the playground. He is constantly making the right decisions to help others solve conflicts and start games. He loves to share very proudly how he helped some kids how to shoot a basket or how he split kids into groups to play a fun game of kickball. Like other kids, he occasionally may get into trouble in the classroom, but he takes responsibility and works on becoming a better student so that he can keep his honorary Junior Coach title. In the past six months, the time I have spent serving the kids of my school has not only changed their lives, but mine. I truly feel connected to each kid and forward the constant growth I see every day from serving.
*name has been changed to protect the identity of the child