Hello everybody, my name is Javier Jimenez Jr., and I am a first-year Pathways to Employment AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Communities In Schools in Lansing, MI. Communities In Schools has a physical room in every school they work with, and I am serving at J.W. Sexton High School. I have got to say, in the 7 years since I’ve been out of high school, it sure has changed.
I’ve learned the importance of basic needs on the educational aspects of a child. Schools nowadays are always wanting the newest technology: iPads, smart white boards, and the latest laptops. While these MIGHT be able to help a student learn better and faster, it means nothing when a student can’t get their basic needs met. I’ve had many students come in needing something to eat, needing a winter coat, or some deodorant. A lot of these students’ families have trouble buying all their basic needs, so it has been very rewarding helping these students get the rest of the stuff they need.
A struggle for me this year has been feeling overwhelmed. The old saying “when it rains, it pours” is so true when it comes to our students. When a student comes in needing help, they are usually with a large group of other students who also need help. It can be overwhelming when so many students are asking for help with so many different things. One student needs a winter coat, another needs new shoes, one might need something to eat, and another student might need a notebook and pencil. Having autism, I can get overwhelmed easily by so many people who need my attention. It’s all about taking a deep breath, asking the students to wait and let me do what I can, one at a time.
It’s been a journey like no other I’ve ever been on. Just 7 years ago I was where many of these students are today, except social media was still young and affordable smart phones weren’t really a thing yet. There are a few kids I get to see and work with on a regular basis, and it’s been great getting to know them. It has also been great sharing what I know with them and getting to learn what life is like now for a high school student in 2018. This time last year I was working 2 jobs and going to school full time. Now I help high school students get the help they need so they can get the education they deserve.