Dream Team Youth

Courtney WaggleUncategorized

Students avoiding responsibility and homework come as no surprise to the teachers in our program. Many try to wiggle out of getting homework done any way they can. However, one student marched right up and told us what he was looking for in our program. John (name changed) was a third grade student who had been in special education classes since he began school. When he came to the Dream Team After School Program, he was in search of the opportunity to do more than what he had been assigned. Upon entering the program, John could not read, write, count, or get along with his classmates. Instead of visiting our special needs room, his mother asked if we had availability in our third-grade classroom. Mrs. Shoemaker welcomed him with open arms, but John wanted to make it clear that he wasn’t there to play with toys, he placed his arms on her desk and said, “Hey, I want to learn to read and write – do you think you could teach me?” Looking puzzled she responded, “It is a lot of hard work, but you seem up to the challenge.” The student had behavioral problems not only at school but also at home with siblings. John attended the program almost every day we were open and completed his practice worksheets, practiced reading, and practiced writing his name. He put in lots of hard work, opting for worksheets and reading books instead of playing games. He made friends with nearly everyone in the classroom and was so excited because he said making friends was difficult for him at school. He soon began collecting the Braum’s Book Buddy Program ice cream coupons. We partnered with the Braum’s Book Buddy Program to motivate students to read by giving them free ice cream coupons as an incentive to read more books. He collected enough to take a family trip to Braum’s and get ice cream for all his siblings. Near Thanksgiving break, he was reading Kindergarten level books to his friends, teacher, staff, and most excitedly, his mother. She was impressed with his improvement because he always struggled in school. When the first semester ended John could write his name legibly, read Kindergarten level books with no assistance, count to 20, and recite part of the alphabet. John was making large improvements in his classroom at his school as well. His mother reported that his teacher was seeing behavioral improvements as well as his adaptive behavior. On his bad days, he would tell Mrs. Shoemaker that his brain was too full for the day and he needed to rest. When he would come back the next day, his eyes were on the prize to get his work done and get a prize out of the treasure chest. He would always choose prizes for his brothers and sisters, and when he finally chose a prize for himself it was a hidden dollar bill. He spent the money on two pops, one for him and one for his brother. His kindness radiated throughout the classroom and students were striving to show kindness to each other the way John did. He was so proud that he could read on his own and write his name like a “big kid,” that it gave him the confidence to take pride in himself and his friendships. Children that want to learn and need extra help are what the Dream Team Program is there for, and John’s success is a shining example.