My first few weeks of Homework Club were such a whirlwind of trying to keep up, stay organized, find this folder, put that away and remember lots of little details that make this place run smoothly. In the last few sessions, I have been able to spend more time observing the students and in those little moments of watching them work, share a meal or complete an assignment I discovered what this space represents – for many of them it is the purest definition of home.
This program is a space where they are always welcome, where they are greeted with excitement or anticipation by tutors who want to hear all about their day. Homework Club is a place where they know where everything is, they have a favorite spot to sit, its comfortable and familiar and sometimes I swear I can see them heave a sigh of relief when they enter this space.
They are no longer anonymously wandering the halls or feeling ignored; in this program they are seen and heard and understood. And at the end of the day isn’t that what all of us are searching for? What a blessing that we can collaborate to create a space where this happens for young people.
~ Katie Simonson
Last school year we had a new Grade 10 student come to Britannia. She was one of those students I sometimes refer to as a “full-time job” in that she required a lot of time and attention. Almost right off the bat she was being kicked out of classes or leaving, skipping and barely completing any work. I was practically at my wits end.
I kept referring her to Homework Club and even attempted to mandate her to attend, but she told me outright that she would never set foot in that program. I was not deterred. Upon returning this year, once Natalie and I took over directorship, I approached the topic again. It was an absolute no. Fortunately for me, we were spending a lot of time together as she was not jiving with her teachers so I had ample opportunity to casually mention “hey, did you know we do a hot dinner at Homework Club?” or “hey, why don’t you just come by for half an hour one day.” I never pushed but just always left the invitation on the table.
Finally, she came by one day and stayed a total of 30 seconds, waved a hello at me and left, but it felt like progress had been made. The second time she made herself a sandwich and asked about printing. This was good! The third time she stayed until the very end, working away, and I don’t think I have ever seen more of a look of accomplishment on a student’s face. She said to me, in awe of herself, “Ms. Simonson I am actually getting so much work done here.” It was so lovely to be witness to a student finding a space that allowed her to complete tasks, but more importantly one in which she felt comfortable and welcome.
~ Katie Simonson