Big Brothers and Big Sisters

Posted on Wednesday January 27, 2010

by Carrie Braman, Residential Lead Teacher

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this first semester’s teaching is seeing students build confidence in their own leadership.  It’s happened in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons.  By heading to their jobsites every morning, the students are able to see the not-insignificant role they play in the world, and by taking leadership over their own projects in the core subject areas, they are understanding just what initiative can accomplish.

Still, one of the academic projects that made me most proud this semester wasn’t originally part of our planned curriculum.  In late September I took three of the students to downtown Rockland to look for jobs, and we happened to park right next to a big purple sign for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter.  All three expressed interest in the program and asked if we could go inside to get more information.  Since it seemed like a healthy curiosity, I said, “Sure, why not?” and we climbed the rickety stairs and introduced ourselves to the surprised staff.   What emerged out of this initial meeting was the seed of a partnership between our two programs.  The girls loved the idea of being mentors to troubled elementary school students, kids they saw themselves as uniquely qualified to help.  Their excitement was contagious.  They harangued their peers into attending the BBBS orientation.  They filled out request forms and followed up with staff at both organizations.  They took it upon themselves to call the BBBS office to arrange follow-up meetings and to discuss a workable schedule, and they convinced us all that a weekly commitment to a younger friend would be beneficial to their education.

In a matter of a few brief weeks, I found myself driving the nervous students to Appleton, where a gymnasium full of eager elementary-schoolers awaited their arrival.  This trip has turned into one of the highlights of my week, a Wednesday ritual that the students look forward to.