Personal Growth

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

No matter how hectic my summer morning was, at 8:30 when I entered the Early Childhood Learning Center, all of my troubles were forgotten. Bubbly boys and girls filled the halls spreading a little piece of their happiness with whoever walked their way. A simple wave. A hug. A toothy smile. There were days they did not quite understand the activities we were doing and there were days they excelled, surpassing all expectations we had. No matter their success, their smile stood strong, their waves energetic, and their hugs tight and filled with love. I was so lucky to get to spend my summer mornings with these kids during their extended school year. The experience taught me things books will never be able to.

I know you are never supposed to have a “favorite child”, but between you and me, Keegan was my absolute favorite child at ECLC. His language was weak, his basic skills just beginning to evolve into effective, but his personality was contagious. Every Thursday for 20 minutes, Keegan and I would practice his cutting–learning how to open and shut beginner scissors to cut out 5 inch shapes. We would color 80% of a picture for the duration of 2 minutes with minimal distractions. We would squeeze clothes pins to pick up pom-poms for 10 repetitions with only one verbal reminder allowed. Yes, he struggled, and yes, there would be weeks where he regressed rather than progressed, but it only made me want to work harder. His struggles lit a fire in both of us.

I wanted nothing more than for Keegan to pick up all ten pompoms. And when he did, after seven weeks when he finally accomplished his goal, I could not have been happier. Those mornings with Keegan, and with every other child I was fortunate enough to work with, helped me to see things in a different light. Seeing them succeed, and being part of the reason for their success, made me feel so whole. It was so much more than coloring. It was focus and struggle and the desire to succeed. There smiles were not just smiles, they were happy hearts, ready for the great day ahead. It was not just twenty minutes, it was precious time of personal growth.

As the weeks went on, I realized that being able to pick up ten pompoms was not the reason for Keegan’s glowing smile, it was because he realized he could accomplish anything. From that moment on, Keegan excelled. His success did not just mean an “A” for achieved on his evaluation sheet, it meant growth, and determination, and happiness. Having the opportunity to work with Keegan offered me the chance to understand things differently in life. There may be days where your success is minimal, but it’s all you need–big things do not always mean great things. Sometimes the littlest things have the greatest impact, you just have to look a little harder to see it.

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