This school year I signed up to be an Encourager at Lakewood Elementary where Savannah and Molly go to school. The Encouragers program is a mentoring program through STEP ministries where you meet with 2 children, 30 minutes each, 1 day a week-helping them with homework or simply playing a game. This is my first year as an Encourager and I want to share a story.
I “encourage” a 4th grade girl. I’m going to call her Jane. (That’s not her real name) She is very pretty and she is very quiet. She lives in a 2 parent home with 2 other siblings. Her parents are into some serious drugs. Serious. Her father is illiterate and he only finished 6th grade. Her mother doesn’t “work” outside the home because her husband is afraid she’ll cheat on her. Yep. Jane tells me stories of parties and guns at her home. And my heart breaks every time for her. Jane can barely read (i’m guessing maybe a 1st grade level) and is struggling at math. Mom was using drugs while she was pregnant with Jane and continues to smoke them around her children now. Jane’s brain isn’t that of a normal 4th grade girl….but her heart is.
The 1st 5 weeks of Encouragers, we have been working on multipication facts. Her 0’s, 1’s and 2’s. Jane cannot do them. At all. She made an F in math on her report card (which didn’t suprise me). Something made me ask her about her spelling. Which she replied she makes mostly F’s on all her spelling tests. So I suggested to Jane that we take a break on the multipication facts and switch to her spelling words. This was yesterday (Thursday).
Although the whole class has 20 spelling words on their test on Friday, Jane only has 10. They are: few, dew, new, blue, knew, grew, truth, thumb, stuck…and I can’t remember the other one. I asked her to spell grew, to write it on her paper. She looked at me, then her paper, and wrote “gru“. I asked her to spell “truth“. She wrote “thut“. Here it is the Thursday before her spelling test on Friday and couldn’t spell one single word on that list. Not one word!!! She has no one to help her, no mama to review her spelling words with her. Her sweet, sweet teacher does a fantastic job at doing everything she can to help her and set her up for success but Jane just can’t do it. Or so we thought….
Jane and I spent our 30 minutes yesterday writing the words. I’d say a word and tell her how to spell it and she’d write it on her paper. Still misspelling it-even after hearing me spell the word out loud to her. But at the end of our time together she had spelled all 10 words correctly twice without me helping her at all.
With permission from her teacher, I went to see Jane this morning and we went over her spelling words right before the test. She had remembered how to spell 8 of them. I reminded her of the differences between “new and knew”, again. And then I left her to take her test.
When I got in my car I prayed for Jane. That somehow she would at least get a C or even a B. That just this once, she could be successful in something and be proud.
Later this morning, I later got a phone call from Jane’s teacher. Jane wanted to talk to me.
“Mrs. Shelton, I made a 100 on my spelling test.”
I thought my heart would burst into a million pieces. (And yes I cried, right in the middle of Kroger) I was so proud of her. And I can’t wait to see her this afternoon.
Often times it is a pain to have to stop in the middle of my day to go to the school for 1 hour to help 2 girls I barely know. Many times I don’t want to. I know I have encouraged Jane . But what she doesn’t know, and may never know is that she has encouraged me. Encouraged me to not overlook the ones who have nothing or noone. Encouraged me to help the father/motherless. (even though she has a father and a mother…she is still father and motherless.) Encouraged me to help the helpless. Encouraged me to even be thankful of what I have at my own home. (Heck-we don’t even review our spelling words and both my girls make 100’s every time.)I take that for granted and I shouldn’t.
Thank you Jane, for encouraging ME!