As a secondary education student with a concentration in English, I am very accustomed to spending time in schools and working with students. My time spent at Broad Ripple Magnet School, though, has been uniquely rewarding and challenging. There are so many challenges to working in this setting, but I would like to share some of my rewarding experiences.
The other week, I began working with a group of girls on some “how-to” tutorials. It took some persuading as they were hesitant to write, but eventually, each girl was working on a different tutorial: some serious, some funny. One girl, though, began writing a tutorial on how to dance. When the other girls heard about her tutorial, they all began giving their personal opinions on how they think people should dance. That was it. I had found something in which they were interested! I suggested that we work together to make a dance tutorial, and the girls were actually excited about partaking in this activity. We took to the hallway to begin our tutorial. The girls worked together to decide on a song that they would dance to, and then they decided to make their tutorial humorous. They chose the song “Hit the Quan,” which has a distinct dance routine that goes with the song, but this group of girls decided to make their own dance routine and make a tutorial for that routine. Suddenly, the atmosphere had changed. The girls went from hesitant writers to enthusiastic artists. They came up with a performance and a written work all in the span of an hour and a half. They even chose to perform their work in front of their peers at the Open Mic! Being able to watch these girls put so much energy and focus into their work was inspiring, and I was unbelievably proud to have been able to take a part in their creative writing experience.
More recently, I had an experience with a student J—, who has recently formed a connection with me. She frequently finds me during our WITS time, and we work together on our creative writing. This particular week, though, J— was uninterested in writing. Instead, she wanted to ask me questions and hear my answers. She just wanted to talk. So we did. We talked for about an hour about many different subjects. We talked about slang terms, genetics, outer space, and so much more. She got answers to her questions, and I learned a lot about J—. No, we didn’t exactly partake in the writing aspect of Writing in the Schools, but I don’t think that it matters. I was there to be a mentor and a friend for this student, and that is what she needed that day. She didn’t need to write. She needed to talk and be heard. I believe that it what it beautiful about this program. We give these kids a place to have a voice.
These experiences have been immensely rewarding. It is moments like these that help me to get through the more challenging days at Broad Ripple. I believe that it is moments like these that make this program so worthwhile and why this program needs to be continued. Mostly, I believe in this program.
Savannah Demerit is a senior English Education major.