On Thursday, April 26, at Our City, Our Schools: An Ambassador Circle event, Boston Public Schools teacher Edverette Brewster and AmeriCorps member Madison Thorpe spoke to City Year Boston ambassadors and friends. Here are the highlights.
Edverette Brewster always knew he wanted to be a teacher. Ever since he was a little boy in Memphis, Tenessee, he played school with his Power Rangers ("I had a discipline system – if you acted up you went to the freezer. It was dope," he joked.) While in college, he was volunteering at an after school program and one of the students was having a horrible day, upset about a bad math grade. Edverette took him aside and helped the student reframe his thinking to be more positive, saying, "What can we do to go in the classroom to finish strong?" To Edverette's surprise and delight, the student took the suggestion to heart and turned his day around! From there, Edverette served with Teach for America and began a career in Boston Public Schools, now teaching middle school Humanities at Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School, where he has Madison Thorpe of the Santander Bank team as his partner AmeriCorps member.
Both Edverette and Madison highly value the power and importance of relationship building in working with youth. Students don't care what you know until they know that you care, says Edverette; students enter the classroom not believing in themselves and their abilities based on their prior experiences. But he sees it as his job to say "you have lots of opinions and this is an opportunity to share them," and to strive to support them in taking risks.
Madison works with a student, Jackie, who began the school year with a negative attitude toward school and a reluctance to participate in class. After having a few conversations with Edverette about how to best support Jackie, Madison began writing Jackie daily notes. On the front of the notes was a motivational quote, and on the back, a note about how the quote related to her personally and "how she could uplift her own spirit and become more independent." Jackie is now so confident, Madison happily shared, that she regularly says "You know what, I got this" and pushes Madison away to work independently.
Edverette is passionate about about the importance of representation and the idea that students can't be what they can't see. "They need to see people that look like them doing great things. Mentoring is important because I can provide the experience to them to be exposed to that."
Madison says the most rewarding thing about mentoring is being able to push students to their full potential and see them grow and become little advocates for themselves. "I love seeing them find the power of their own voices."
If you are interested in joining the Ambassador Circle, contact Nora Lehan at email@example.com.