A former student recently stopped by the classroom she first stepped into years ago. For Juanita, it was a trip down memory lane; for me, it was proof positive of the value of Help Yourself.
As a third-grader, Juanita was an eager student who brought me her science book from school to show me the experiments she wanted to do. Now, she is a high school senior. Headed to college next year, she has enough scholarship assistance to pay for most of her tuition at college, where she will study international business with a focus on accounting, statistics, and languages.
Juanita is also a candidate for a congressional award for her service and achievement. She recounted how, due to a scheduling conflict, she didn’t have a true biology course, so her primary exposure to genetics was in the Help Yourself academy.
As we chatted, Juanita recounted how some of her favorite science activities were designing a trail mix that had to contain a certain number of ingredients, not to exceed a given weight, and how they computed percentages of ingredients for their package. She also remembered collecting data and determining which popcorn brand had the biggest yield of popped kernels. Importantly, Juanita’s mother and grandmother were supportive of all she did.
As a teacher and director of the program, stories like the one Juanita told me make the effort worthwhile. They also validate what we are trying to accomplish.
No child should be left behind. Juanita was not.