By Katie Slajus, AmeriCorps member on the Wells Fargo team serving at Edward H. White High School
The other day, I called the mother of one of my students. This particular student is a notorious misbehaver, whose favorite form of defiance is walking out of class. I rarely see this student turn in work, and he is very easily frustrated when he does not understand a concept in class. When I called home, it was clear that his mom was dreading what she was going to hear. “What kind of trouble did he get in this time? What was serious enough that it had to wait until after school was done for the day?” I explained to her why I was calling; her son had behaved extremely well in class and had put forth more effort than I had ever seen. His mother told me that he had been getting in a lot of trouble recently so to get a call like this was incredible.
Thanksgiving solicits mixed feelings from many people. On one hand, there is everything they feel that they have been blessed with. On the other hand, there are all the things they feel they should be thanked even more for. As the Thanksgiving season rolls around, it seems that every other day I see an article regarding “America’s Most Thankless Jobs.” Two of the most common top votes are usually teaching and volunteering.
City Year AmeriCorps members volunteer in classrooms, but our jobs are in no way thankless. Maybe you have to look a little harder for it sometimes, but thanks can be found in all sorts of places. The joy in that mother’s voice when I told her how great her son was, that was thanks. The frustration my students show when I tell them I’m not going to be there for a day of school, that is thanks. The students who scream hello to me every time they see me regardless of if I work in their class or not, that is thanks. The entire class that begs to work in my small group when they know I can only work with a certain number of kids, that is thanks. The girl who promised to bake me a birthday cake and started planning it out even though my birthday is months away, that is thanks.
Even if the words “thank you” aren’t explicitly said, thanks can be seen everywhere you look. When you’re serving a cause greater than self, thanks is not expected, but it’s appreciated. Sometimes you have to look a little bit harder, but the thanks is even greater once you find it.