The growth I saw during the six-week program of the students was amazing. I remember the first couple of days some students wouldn’t even look at each other because they were shy, but by the end of program, they were all getting along and working together. During the week of August 7th, the students finished the last designs of their cars, and even though we wanted the cars to be filled with local business logos, nobody decided to sponsor us. Not to be discouraged, the students put all of their interests on their cars.

We also had a field trip to 1871 where the students listened to a panel of young entrepreneurs and what they have learned and experienced while running a business. One of the panelists was a 12-year-old who started his own baking company. One of my students couldn’t believe that someone so young had a business. A lot of my students mentioned that the panel made them think that if those young entrepreneurs can have a business, they could do anything they set their minds to. One student and I attended the Englewood rejoice program where many people from After School Matters got together and talked about their programs. I believe attending events like this are vital for community unity. We even ended with a peace march, and I believe the student who attended with me really enjoyed it. He was also able to practice his communication skills.

Our final showcase didn’t go as completely as planned. With all the people we contacted and invited we expected a couple more people to show up, but we had the support of After School Matters and Project Exploration which was great. The students were able to race their final modified designed cars. It was interesting to see the drivers try to control their cars while someone else is trying to get more laps. Team “Speed Formula” won the race of most laps in 10 minutes with a total of 33 laps around the track, and the “Phoenix Wheels” team won the “Fastest Lap Challenge” coming in at 10.19 second for one lap. The students had fun and incorporated everything they learned during program. After our final competition, we went back inside and had a moment of reflection to reflect on the best parts of programs and the parts of program that got a little boring. I received a lot of great feedback. If their minds were put to work, and they had fun, I am satisfied. This experience made me grow as an individual and drives me more to want to help people young or old in their education. My favorite quote from one of my students by far was “So when does Fall program start?”

I will miss all of them and I hope this program strengthened them in whatever skills they believed they needed help in.

Written By: Uzziel Fernandez

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