Wednesday, October 10, 2007

St. Ignatius Homework Club- 10/10/07

St. Ignatius Academy is a school for middle school boys who are dedicated to hard work and rigorous academic demands at a private Jesuit school. The boys who attend St. Ignatius arrive at seven in the morning and they do not depart until seven at night. These young men are interviewed and selected to attend St. Ignatius based on good academic standing and family income. All of the boys at St. Ignatius come from a low income family background. The boys are sponsored by a contributor of the school who pays for their full tuition.

Since it is a Jesuit school we, student from Loyola College, have an instant connection with the middle school boys even if they don’t recognize it yet. There is a physical connection as well as a spiritual one. St. Ignatius Academy is located on Calvert Street in the city, the old building which housed Loyola College’s early campuses. St. Ignatius church stands on the corner and St. Ignatius Academy occupies the building directly next to the church. I am so happy to see a part of Loyola’s history, still to this day educating young people in the Jesuit ideals. The five floors of St. Ignitions middle school already has the foundation of a college built into it. I find it really neat that I get the chance to walk off campus not just into Baltimore where I constantly try to find connections with people, places, and things but that I get to participate in a great service program at the exact location where Loyola originated and tradition began.

Form my service experience through the St. Ignatius homework club I have felt blessed with my education thus far and will continue to appreciate what my family and God have allowed me to achieve. Also I realize I need to be taking my academics more seriously. Elijah, the student who I tutor, has very little free time because of the high expectations St. Ignatius has of their students. The school work is challenging but it is necessary. I believe we all must challenge ourselves physically, spiritually, and academically. I feel like I take the right measures to challenge myself physically and spiritually but not in the academic intensity I should. My mentee Elijah challenges me to take my academics seriously and efficiently. I am actively trying to work wholeheartedly like Elijah, in my studies.

Helping at Homework Club has made me evaluate the different services I do in Baltimore. I usually work with the material poor or marginalized people in the city. Care-a-van and Our Daily Bread have made me aware of social justice issues, my responsibility to respect the whole person, and value of community even to those people who are homeless. Through my volunteering at St. Ignatius it has given me a different perspective on service. Service of knowledge, intelligence, and understanding are all qualities I did not consider a service before now. Recently I have been able to realize that these not so tangible talents could be a helpful service to others, such as middle school children.

Elijah and I have met three times this school year, so our relationship is still new. He is in sixth grade and plays varsity soccer. Elijah is somewhat of a quiet kid who likes to get right down to business. Homework Club is a real test of my ability to control my verbal banter and concentrate at the task at hand. It is important for Elijah to get his homework done because after school he might not have the best learning environment. Finishing and explaining the homework are essential to what I do as a mentor. I am there if Elijah has any questions and to help guide him. Elijah is not one to ask for help but rather he will just sit and stare if he is unsure of what to do next or stuck on a question. I have to read his body language an approach him in a way that doesn’t make him feel dumb. I usually start out by telling him to reread the question and then point to the page where he might find the answer. I hope to be a good role model for Elijah and become friends through our time spent together.

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