At first, my decision to enroll in the Writing in Schools course was a purely logistical one. It fulfilled both my Indianapolis Community Requirement and a credit for my English minor, so it seemed like an obvious choice. The opportunity to fulfill requirements while serving in the community seemed worthwhile, yet did not foster much reflection prior to starting the course. Much to my surprise, after beginning this course I very rapidly felt a deep connection to both the school, students, and educational system in general.
Before my first day of tutoring, I felt similar to how I do at the origin of any new endeavor, which is extremely nervous. Feelings of inadequacy and unpreparedness jostled within me before I entered the school. How was I supposed to connect with high school students? Will they all have attitude problems? What if someone asks a question and I don’t know the answer? All of these questions swirled in my consciousness and left me anxious. However, when I met my first three students that day, my fears slowly faded.
The students I met that day were deeply intelligent and eloquent, seeking my guidance with intention and providing me with grace when I couldn’t supply them with what they needed. As I left, I knew my preconceived notions of high school students were deep-seeded and false. The high school students I met that day and each day forward were unique and bright individuals, who shone with their own talents and skills. This realization grew deeper through the after-school writer’s club, where I had the privilege of interacting with the same students from week to week. From D— the rap aficionado, to N— the poet, or K— the artist, I was absolutely struck by the immense talent of these students.
My misconceptions changed because of these students. The resiliency, self-awareness, and talent I witnessed was remarkable. Through conversations with these students, I was able to witness many individuals who had not been dealt the easiest hand in life, yet continued to actively fight for the education they deserve. These students taught me to take time to hear people’s stories and truly listen. I was able to sit humbly in the recognition of my privilege and comprehend the implicit biases and disenfranchisement many students face today in the contemporary school system.
Ashley Boylan is a junior Sociology major.