I remember the feeling of happiness that I have surrounding Little Pink.
2023 Scholarship Winner
When I was in the 2nd grade my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and started going through chemo and her treatments. I honestly didn’t notice a change, or get affected by my mom’s battle with cancer. I knew my mom was sick but I didn’t grasp the severity of the situation and my parents did a pretty good job of keeping me distracted. I was often over at a friend’s house playing games and hanging out with them. Then, about six months later, we were accepted to go on our own Little Pink retreat to Bethany Beach, Delaware. I don’t remember much from that time because it has been almost ten years, but I do remember the feeling of happiness that I have surrounding Little Pink. I remember telling the volunteers at our retreat as well as my parents that when I turned sixteen, I would volunteer for a Little Pink retreat of my own and so I did. I got this opportunity last summer when I was seventeen and went with my mother to Emerald Isle, NC (I would have done it at sixteen but because of covid I didn’t want to risk getting exposed). I was very nervous when I first arrived as I was the only volunteer under 40 as well as the only guy, and I didn’t know what to expect. I settled in quickly with the other volunteers especially because my mom was there to guide me (she had already volunteered multiple times after our retreat).
At the beginning of the week everyone felt nervous around each other and a few of the families told us they thought the retreat was fake before they arrived. This changed though as the week went by and I got to watch ten families from all over the United States turn the retreat into a family reunion. During the middle of the week we had time to go bowling and everyone split up from the rest of their families to go play and talk with other people. Everyone was cheering each other on and some friendly competition was definitely started. This whole week ended up being an amazing experience for me and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
On the last day, after our final meal with the families, I was driving back to our house with my mom, and told her that no matter what profession I choose to pursue or career choice I make, I want to do something to help people. This has led me down the path of being an elementary school teacher. Another reason I am motivated to go to college and become an elementary school teacher is because I took a field experience class last semester. I had the opportunity to go back to my own elementary school to observe and help out around the classroom. I decided to observe a 3rd grade classroom over multiple different days, for a total of 12 hours of classroom learning. I had to take notes about what I observed in the classroom but I also was able to participate at some points in the class. On the last day that I was observing the classroom, I got the opportunity to help teach one of the students simple multiplication as I had already finished my notes and required hours for the day. The students were completing multiplication problems from a packet on their desk, and I was walking around helping students who needed it and signing off on students who had completed the work. Eventually, one student raised their hand and asked for help. The teacher was busy at the time so I figured I would try and help them out the best I could. After a minute or two I realized that teaching young kids math was a lot harder than I had anticipated. I was trying to teach the student multiplication the way that I learned it and what worked for me which ended up stumping the student. The student still didn’t understand how to solve the problem and I had to approach the problem from three different directions before they understood the concept I was trying to convey. This taught me that you need to know what the students’ learning strategies and styles are before you try and teach them. Each student comes from a different background and learns in a different way, so what makes sense to one student may not work for another.
This experience increased my desire to be a teacher because it showed me how difficult teaching is and how complex it is under the surface. There is no one size fits all approach to teaching and that is what pulled me into this field of study. I know that I will be learning from the students along the way as well and how to teach each different student in the best way possible. I was inspired by the challenge that I faced in this situation and my success in teaching the student something new. In that 5 minute interaction, not only did the student increase their knowledge of mathematics but, I also learned that in order to teach effectively you must meet the student where they are. That is why I have decided to pursue a degree in elementary education.