By De’Nair Adams
As a mentor in People Assisting others with Care and Kindness or P.A.C.K. as we call it, I learned more about myself than the two students I mentored. Above all, I learned patience.
If you know me, “patience” is not the first trait that would come to mind when describing me, yet patience is the gift I earned from mentoring.
Whether a student is autistic, cognitively impaired, or faces emotional issues, they deserve every chance to thrive in school. Our P.A.C.K. teacher, Ms. Moore, pairs mentors with students who may need an extra boost in class both academically and socially.
As a mentor, my class is whatever class my P.A.C.K. student needs me in and over the last two years, I had the pleasure with working with two different students.
I was nervous at first thinking, “who am I to help this kid? I am a kid myself.” Once I was able to break down some walls, I immediately took a liking to my first P.A.C.K. student because he was funny, kind, and full of energy. In order for me to see those traits, I had to get my shy student to talk to me. He did not like talking to other people and when he had to speak to others, he would often mumble. My method for getting him to speak up was to portray mock sadness when I could not hear him. When I would do that, he would often laugh and speak up to me. When he got comfortable with me, we ended up having a blast together and became very good friends. He often sits with me at lunch and we talk to each other in the hallways. After we got done with our semester together, I noticed that he now likes to talk much louder and has fun with other students at Thurston. I honestly felt like a proud dad when I would see him making friends and talking with other kids.
This last semester was more challenging. I felt like it was going to be a hot mess. My new student and I had gym class together and we initially started off a little rocky. He often complained when he had to play sports and could honestly be insulting. We got into spats and he did not appreciate me telling him what to do. In no way was this a shy kid. At first, I stooped to that level. I soon learned that praise and encouragement is what he needed. Overall, it was a good experience for the both of us.
My two experiences with P.A.C.K. were very different. I might say the first experience was much easier, but in the end, these kids are often misunderstood and deserve a fair shot with people, all it takes is a little patience.