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What My Daughter Told Second Graders About Middle School

Sometimes, it can be easy for teenagers to get wrapped up in their own lives and forget about the world around them. That’s why I feel blessed that my daughter Geneva goes to a school where young people are afforded opportunities to get involved in community service. Recently, I was proud of my daughter for making the most of a special opportunity to give back to her community and help a group of younger scholars.

In February, Geneva, who is 13, visited Success Academy Williamsburg and spoke to a class of second graders who wanted to know what to expect in middle school. They were full of questions: What classes was she taking? Did she still get recess? How much homework did she do every night? What did middle schoolers keep in their lockers?

In February, Geneva, who is 13, visited Success Academy Williamsburg and spoke to a class of second graders who wanted to know what to expect in middle school.

These second graders were in Vassar College-New York University, a class led by Ms. Bottoni and Ms. Kinsley. I first met them last November through the Network Buddies program, which pairs network office employees like me with a classroom, so we can interact with scholars and support the teachers. During my first visit, I told them about my job helping prospective families learn about our schools. However, they were far more interested when I told them I had a daughter who had started at Success Academy in kindergarten and was now in the eighth grade. Each time I visited, they asked me about Geneva. So in February, I invited her to come along so they could finally meet her and hear what middle school is like. She didn’t hesitate — she immediately said yes!

Geneva was able to visit the scholars in VC-NYU after her school — Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts — dismissed early one Friday afternoon. On the day of her visit, she brought snacks and crayons for the scholars. She was still wearing her uniform, and the children were excited to see a scholar who was “so big!” walking the hallways. I had not coached her on what to say, so I was not sure what she would emphasize in her presentation.

As she began her talk, I was struck by her focus. She took her time talking though the changes from elementary school to middle school — more freedom and independence, but also more responsibility. “You have to stay on top of your grades, because teachers are not telling you what to do all the time,” she said. The kids listened quietly, but they became animated when Geneva talked about being able to choose her own classes, going off campus for lunch, and earning rewards for getting good grades and doing the right thing. When she started talking about school lockers, the kids were throwing up hand signals, showing they were making connections.

That day Geneva chose to give up an afternoon when she could have been studying or socializing to do something positive for her community. I was proud of her for making that choice and grateful to the school that she was able to have this opportunity. Seeing her motivate the next generation of middle school scholars was truly inspiring. I know she can’t wait to do it again. After we said goodbye, Geneva turned to me on our way out and said: “Can we come back next Friday?”

Written by Genevieve Foster April 4, 2016

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