One of my greatest passions in life has come from working with students through Sterling Meadows Youth Programs. Sterling Meadows is an Apartment complex that provides affordable housing for agricultural workers and their families. I sought to become involved with their youth programs in the summer of 2013 after learning that a student I had mentored for three years lived there. I was a freshman at Western Washington University when I first met this student through the Compass 2 Campus (C2C) program at his middle school. After mentoring him for three years, a teacher at his middle school recommended that I contact Sterling Meadow’s Resident Services Coordinator, Lindsey, so that I could continue mentoring him over the summer. That summer I volunteered with Lindsey’s elementary gardening group and began to get to know the students. At first, I only knew my mentee and a handful of elementary school students, but once I got to know more and more residents, I found it hard not to come back every day! When school started up in the fall, I began volunteering at teen homework club and followed my mentee to his high school as his C2C mentor. When I went to school with him, I began recognizing the faces of other Sterling Meadow’s residents and was elated to expand my mentoring to more and more students. Since then, I have worked with Sterling students in their high school classes as a mentor, middle school classes as their student teacher, and summer school classes as a volunteer.
This summer will mark my seventh year as a mentor to my student who is now in the eleventh grade, and my fourth year as a Sterling Meadows volunteer. Through my connection to Sterling Meadows, I have mentored many students whose ages range from eight to twenty-two. My students know that I have high expectations and high affection for them and that I will be a consistent presence in their education. Being there to encourage them and reinforce their achievements has impacted their success and my own. Sterling Meadows has given me the opportunity to work with middle and high school students in their home community and at school. My connection to my mentee’s home community has yielded remarkable results academically and has illuminated the importance of home to school relationships for me in my future practice as a teacher.