When Myikhah first came to academic time at our Summer Academy in July, she was anxious, doubtful of her abilities and easily frustrated. Outside of class, Myikhah was vibrant, full of smiles and laughter, and clever. The primary thing holding her back was her lack of confidence.

“I’d rather get a Think Slip than do my homework.” Myikhah told volunteers on more than one occasion. Think Slips are what the Beyond School program uses for disciplinary action. Rather than serving as punishment, they encourage understanding of issues. Students and volunteers work together to overcome those issues after the slip is turned in. Myikhah didn’t want to do her homework because she would get frustrated quickly and become discouraged. When she was challenged with a more difficult book than what she felt she could handle, she would cry and refuse to try to finish it.

The volunteers who worked with her put their heads together to come up with creative ideas to counter her frustrations. One of the volunteers made a point to praise Myikhah in front of other volunteers about how well she was progressing when she tried. Myikhah was able to see that her hard work was not going unnoticed, and that others believed in her, too. Through hard work and just a little push whenever she dug her heels in, Myikhah slowly overcame her self-doubt.

At the end of the session, Myikhah never actually had to fill out a Think Slip and her confidence and enthusiasm were at full strength. At the start of the last week of Summer Academy, she specifically asked for the book that had previously made her cry. She finally read it all the way through. When she read the last sentence and closed the book, it was easy to see how proud she was of her accomplishment. In just a few weeks, Myikhah grew in reading ability, but she also learned to believe in herself- a skill that will take her many places.