I have a classroom of about 18 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders and I help them with homework, math skills and reading comprehension. As you can imagine, it's EXTREMELY hectic to have that many kids from 5 schools and 3 different grades all with different homework and subject struggles. It's not easy, but I guess nothing worth doing is ever really easy.
The founder, Rose McGill, and the leader of the Across Ages Program, Mrs. Jones, are always telling me how much they appreciate what I have done for them and the community awareness I've brought to their organization. But, the crazy thing is that I feel like I am the lucky one. These kids have overcome so much - they are fighters. They come to FLH everyday by choice. They could easily get off the bus and walk home instead of to FLH, but they don't. They may not act like it all the time, but they want and need the help, attention, love, and for someone to believe in them and their future. I guess these 18 kids found that in me. I was looking for something to be passionate about, a place where I could make a difference, and somewhere I could pour my heart into. God was listening, because he brought me here, and I have received all that and more.
Tonight was the Christmas celebration. All the kids in the FLH organization got little dollar store gifts, candy, and spent the afternoon playing games. I went there as usual, just expecting to enjoy free time with them. Little did I know I was in for an overwhelming experience. FLH has a school "store" where kids use their behavior points to buy things. My kids pooled their points together and bought me a pillow, which they all signed, a cozy blanket, and mugs. But, the part that really got me is that they all wrote me letters. By the end I was a mess (and looked it).
Here is one of the letters from a 3rd grader who started CRYING as he was reading me his letter! It was one of the most shocking thing I've ever witnessed:
Dear Mrs. Whitney,
I love you. I like your smile and your clothes. You are a beautiful person and the best teacher I've ever had. I know you care about my future because you keep coming back to FLH to help us learn even when we act bad. I promise to always do my best because you say that is what makes you proud.
My cup runneth over.
with some of the girls in my class (and my pillow) :)