Walking into a new class I always knew where my place in the classroom was…at the seat in the back. I learned early on that I had two things that always forced me to the back – my height and my behavior. I will never forget walking into 6th grade science class and asking my teacher where my seat is and she just said, “where it usually is.” She didn’t say it in a rude way it was more of just indifference which hurt more, it just reaffirmed my own thoughts of being the “bad or troubled” kid. She was already aware of my reputation and I hadn’t even sat down yet. So I took my seat in the back of the class and started to talk to the other “bad” kids about how I need to do something to get out of this class. This turned into daring another student to chew on the pen until it exploded in his mouth- although fun for a few laughs, the student had a blue mouth for a couple days. Long story short, I was sent to the office yet again where the counselor told me she didn’t understand why I would do something like that. My usual response would be to say, “Because I wanted to.” But this time it was different instead I said, “Because I am just living up to the reputation that every teacher has for me.”

So many students share the same feeling I had when I was a student. They just want someone to see them beyond their behaviors and shortcomings. They want the person who says you can be anything you want. They want someone who says “DREAM BIG.” I wish growing up I had had Kids on Course to just advocate for only me and my family. Kids on Course has allowed me to become that advocate for students.

I needed someone who was on my team who wasn’t going to just write me off yet again. I am now able to be that support and advocate for students who are struggling just like I was throughout my childhood. I truly believe that every child can succeed and that every child should DREAM BIG!

– Claire Stevens, Van Buren Site Coordinator