Endings and Beginnings

By Harry Hawkins

The end of the school year means different things to different people. For kids, the promise of summer often leads to emotional countdowns and dreams of playing in the sun. For teachers, it is a time for rest and a time to reenergize. Recently, a child from our ACE program, told Ozanne Anderson, the Director, her thoughts on the school year ending.

Reflecting on the last year, a 4th grader shared her reflection with Ozanne, that “I can tell that you believe everything you say to me.”

The genuine connection Ozanne shares with her students creates an atmosphere where the dispensation of knowledge and wisdom is possible.

This interaction reinforced what Ozanne already knew; the direction Nehemiah takes, face to face, personal interaction, must happen for real transformation. Transformations are what Ozanne is witnessing as she reads the end of year surveys from the students. For instance, another young lady learned her emotions didn’t define her identity. Another realized was sad that the program was ending, and she chose not to participate earlier and was very grateful for the chance to attend at the end of the school year. All of this stemmed from authentic relationships and seeing the best in the children.

“If you see them as a group, you will see the disparities and the issues. But if you see them as individuals, then you will see the hope, and their gifts.” Ozanne said reflecting on connecting with the children.

That insight into the potential of our children is why we have our Summer ACE program. Just because the schools are out, doesn’t mean that our kids need less encouragement, hope, or support. For six weeks, Ozanne and her team instruct the children in everyday hard skills like math and reading, but they also work on soft skills like problem resolution and leadership.

This year Ozanne has a group of young African American boys who are training to be Junior Coaches. Many of these young men were participants in the ACE Summer program from previous years. Now, they have the opportunity to explore leadership and mentoring at a young age.

Learning never stops! For more information about ACE and our ACE Summer programs, email ace@nehemiah.org