Mentoring the kids at Broad Ripple High School has not been a simple task. Most of us were scared out of our boots on the first day. I’m not a natural born teacher, and I have no intention of being one either, so this experience has not come easy. But in all honesty, it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
The best moment so far was a recent one. I was working with two girls who I’ve been working with all semester and have developed a good relationship with. One is very hard to get writing, while the other loves to write kooky, hilarious stories, but can’t seem to harness her attention span for more than a few minutes. We were doing Thanksgiving prompts and none of them seemed to strike their fancy. The girl who is hard to get writing eventually just started doodling and writing some short lines of poetry or story ideas on her page. The other girl still wanted to know what the prompts were, in between mouthfuls of snacks and comments about school. I read a prompt about writing a story from the point of view of a Thanksgiving turkey. Immediately, the student’s mouth started spouting off.
At first, I thought she was just talking about random things, but then I realized she was dictating a story. It was instantaneous; as soon as she heard the prompt, she already had a storyline and a character and an idea for the end of her story. She was coming up with it on the spot. I quickly told her to start writing and helped her remember what she had said. The story was about a turkey that slowly comes to realize that he is getting spoiled and fed a lot because he is going to be the Thanksgiving turkey. At the end, the turkey simply accepts his fate because that’s just the way life is. It was brilliant and hilarious and the best thing that she has written so far. She knew it, too. She was smiling proudly while I read it. I encouraged her to read it at the Open Mic at the end of the day.
When her name was called, she wanted to back out. I agreed to go up and stand with her while she read it, but that wasn’t enough. We got up there and the amount of people staring and waiting to listen made her nervous. It was even intimidating to me, but the class needed to hear her story. More importantly, she needed to see people positively react to something she created. I read her story to the class and for the rest of the time she couldn’t stop smiling. Seeing someone’s confidence grow like that is indescribable and I’m going to miss hanging with the students and helping that process along.
Caroline Wood is senior English major.