Skip to content

Starfish Story

November 7, 2011

Photo retrieved from luxuryweb.com

By Kylie Cannon, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Broadmoor Middle School

Here at City Year, we have something we like to call a Starfish Story.  There is a story we tell of a young girl who took a walk on the beach early one morning after a terrible storm. As she approached the water, she saw that thousands of starfish had been washed up upon the shore. Every time the girl came upon a starfish, she would pick it up and throw it back into the ocean. She continued in this manner for some time, until a man approached her and said “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at how many starfish are on this beach; you can’t possibly save them all. You can’t even being to make a difference!” For a few moments the young girl looked crestfallen. After a minute, however, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it as far as she could into the sea. She looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

At City Year, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the circumstances in which we work and question the extent to which we are actually making a difference. The Starfish Story is here to remind us that, to that one starfish, to that one student, we are making a difference. So today I’d like to share with you a Starfish Story of my own.

One of my seventh graders at Broadmoor Middle, we’ll call him Daniel, was an absolute monster from day one. His behavior was out of control: he would terrorize other children in the classroom, mocking them and stealing their pencils; he would swear at me and the teacher; and refuse to so much as write his name on the day’s assignment. By the end of every day working with Daniel, I was at my wit’s end. Nothing I could do seemed to have the slightest impact.

Weeks passed, and I began to pull Daniel out of class to have conversations about his behavior. We talked about how he was a very smart person and could often get away with messing around in class, but the same wasn’t always true of his friends. Later, I told him that if he could come on time to class every day for a week, I would bring him something. The very next day, he showed up ten minutes late to math class, as usual. When I said it looked like he wouldn’t be getting that special treat after all, Daniel was furious! After that, he made a point of making it to every class on time and pointing it out to me if I happened to be late to class myself due to meetings or other commitments. Lo and behold, this terror of a 12-year-old made a complete 180 at the promise of some candy and a note from a City Year Corps Member.

Sometimes, just talking to these kids like they’re real people and letting them know you respect them can make a world of difference. Daniel is by no means the “good kid” in the classroom, but I know he’s making an effort – he makes a point of showing and telling me this every day. Daniel is just one of many marooned starfish at Broadmoor, but I know that to him, at least, I’ve made a difference.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: