Jonathan is a first-grade student who attends Urban Youth Impact’s outreach site in Boynton Beach. He and his family are from Haiti, which frequently creates a language barrier between Jonathan and volunteers as well as the outreach coordinator, Luther. Despite the language barrier, Luther spends time with him weekly, reading and assisting him with math.
Jonathan has struggled with self-doubt; constantly stating that he cannot read or solve his math homework. The words we speak hold significant power and like Jonathan, when we continually say, “I can’t” we reinforce that message in our mind. Social psychologists have learned over the years that even seemingly subtle differences in language can have powerful effects on our thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
As they continued to work, Luther challenged Jonathan to change his attitude to say, “I can!”; continuing to speak life into him. One day, Luther took the role of the student while Jonathan became the teacher. Jonathan was a natural using the whiteboard, breaking down the problem step-by-step and was able to teach the entire lesson. Jonathan was overcome with excitement and could not wait to tell his teacher on Monday.
The time spent one-on-one time with Luther has drastically improved Jonathan’s attitude as well as in his mathematics. Jonathan and Luther are a perfect example of why maintaining relationships with our students is so crucial. “It’s encouraging to see God provide for the inner city in ways that enrich them. From wealth to poverty, privilege or underprivileged God cares about his children,” said Luther. When students are loved, equipped and empowered they realize their value and step into whom God has called them to be. In addition, investing in these students positively impacts their academic success and potential in the job market.