On September 16 we launched our very first class of our very first phase with our very first cohort. We had absolutely no idea what to expect. And just like most rookies, we came in expecting the toughest, hardest, most disrespectful kids would walk into the room that night….and man, were we wrong!
We are up against a false narrative every time we enter the classroom- that we can save. That we have the answers. That we are the ones imparting knowledge to these “disadvantaged” young people. Thankfully, our students are patient. Honestly, they’ve (been showing off) and are already making deep observations about themselves and the world around them. They are growing. Why are we surprised
Well, maybe because one of the stories society tells us is that youth in foster care are broken beyond repair. This, I will tell you, is completely untrue. Sure, there are particular wounds young people in care have that need mending. That’s why we created a program that is trauma-informed and evidence-based. That’s why we are focusing on professional character, not basket weaving. But if we forget that we as leaders also have deficits, the angle we come into class with is too sharp- offensive even. So rather than sharing what our students are learning, (we’d prefer them to speak for themselves) let me tell you what we are learning about them:
They work HARD.
Not one kid on our cohort has missed a class. Not one has dropped out. And all of them are either in school or working. And no, we didn’t incentivize this program (besides providing dinner). This is not because we are amazing, it’s because THEY are. They see something they want and they go after it. These are young folks with lives and issues and every Monday night they show up ready to work. They don’t make excuses.
They take risks.
Despite what they have been through personally, they still open up. During our 7th class, one of our students told us about the physical abuse she had been through. She laughed and said “I don’t know why they took me when I was a teenager when my mom had been hitting me my whole life. I had just finally gotten used to it.” At the end of class, this young lady performed a scene multiple times in different ways and took risks in how she played her role. She opened herself up to the room and opened herself up to suggestions and comments. She’s been hurt, but she’s moving onto her “new stage.” Her pride was visible in her eyes that night.
We come to class every Monday night, with food, drinks and a lesson plan. But our students are the ones who bring the vulnerability, the courage and the work to change themselves. They are the ones who should be celebrated. Kids in foster care are limitless in their potential. They just need the space and encouragement to see it. We are so blessed to be a witness on their journey.