Monday’s Starfish – “You Matter”

By Bakang Gunika

My team serves in Kagiso on the West Rand, at WD Oliphant Primary School. There is a grade 6 boy who is part of our after-school programme, and struggled with mathematics, especially multiplication. His lack of understanding made him reluctant to participate in class. And in this case, when the learner was unwilling to do certain tasks, it led him to be destructive in class.

One of my teammates noticed that he was not paying attention in class, and approached him. With a with a calm voice she asked, “What seems to be the problem?” He replied, saying he didn’t understand and was not interested. At first the boy resisted the daily help he received from my teammate. She had heard that no matter what she did to help, the learner would keep on disappointing her. It is better to leave him alone, she was told.

But she was committed to helping him. She didn’t take the nasty things she had heard about the young boy into consideration. She ignored the stories, and was determined to be open-minded. I think she doesn’t believe in the word, impossible. The way she attended to him was so warm and friendly, that the learner soon opened up to her. She explained how to do multiplication in different ways. Ways that he could understand and follow. She reminded him that in mathematics, there are many ways to arrive at an answer.

Before long the boy started to see the light, and we started seeing wonders. I was so astounded, as was his teacher, by his development and progress. His classwork scores soared and by him improving, he started enjoying mathematics. But most of all, he restored his love of learning. City Year has only been in the school for a few months, but we have Service Leaders that are already having an impact on children’s lives. I’m thrilled at how quickly we managed to really help someone, and we still have plenty of time before the end of the year to make more of a difference.