These are the words that sum up my thoughts upon completing what I was told would be the most challenging experience of my life thus far:
You know a dream is like a river
Ever changing as it flows
And the dreamers just a vessel that must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what’s behind you and never knowing what’s in store
Makes a day a constant battle just to stay between the shores
And I will sail my vessel until the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind, these water’s are my skies.
I’ll never reach my destination, if I never try
So I will sail my vessel until the river runs dry
Too many times we stand aside and let the water slip away
But what we put off til tomorrow has now become today
So don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tides.
There’s bound to be rough waters and I know I’ll take some falls
But with the good Lord as my Captain, I can make it through them all.
In the last five weeks, I have learned that dreams are malleable. That time changes all things. That no matter how hard set you are about one set of beliefs, they can always be changed.
Teaching has taught me that. It has taught me that people can change. No matter how young or stubborn, every child has the same potential and their dreams matter.
In the process of getting to know my 17 students this summer, my entire life changed. I used to dream about being a published photographer or writer, but those dreams are on hold. I now dream of changing lives.
This summer, in the four weeks I had my students, they grew 22 points in reading. This means while their pre-test average was a 54, their post-test average was a 76. They went from failing to passing. But more importantly, they went from discouraged to empowered.
It breaks my heart to walk away from them now. But I leave them in the hands of my colleagues. I trust that their potential will continue to be nurtured, and they will grow into amazing leaders.
But what did they do for me? They taught me what’s important in life. I have never been more fulfilled as I am right now. They taught me that anyone can accomplish anything when they want it. No matter how many obstacles are stacked against you, you can always rise above. You can ALWAYS succeed.
Although I left Houston with puffy eyes, I know that more challenging, yet potential-filled, opportunities wait in Jacksonville. It is my dream to lead more students to achievement; to change their life track. To make them see that their dreams can come true, all they have to do is believe in themselves.
So, to my fellow Corps Members out there: keep dreaming. Let this experience change you the way you will change your students.
And to those of you who got me through the last five weeks with your jokes, smiling faces, dance parties, and extended breaks…you are amazing. I wouldn’t have made it without you, and I’m so glad we got to experience those kids together. We will forever be connected by the lives we touched.