Helping Zoe Find Her Place

By Kelsey Poppe, Treehouse Education Specialist

As an Education Specialist I work to support students with the critical elements of their school success: grades, attendance, and behavior. I also have the privilege of supporting students as they work towards their personal goals, whatever those may be. Whether a student dreams of going to college or being a sponsored skateboarder, my job is to help find the steps to take to meet their goals and provide encouragement and problem solving support along the way. This is one of the most exciting parts of my role because the diversity of passions that my students possess is astonishing and inspiring. During the summer months, with the nitty gritty of academics on the backburner, I get to dive headfirst into student centered planning with students and find new ways to support their goals.

Pretty young brunette girl has her books open as she studies at a busy library.

One of my students, Zoe, loves books, so much so that one of her career aspirations is to be a novelist. When I started meeting with her halfway through the school year I was impressed by the voracity of her reading. Every week she waltzed into the office with new book checked out from the school library, thick tomes stacked high atop an already bursting binder. A good adventure plot full of action and intrigue is her favorite and she would happily relay the highlights to me after we checked in about her grades and classes. The last week of school she arrived in the office, threw her arm across her forehead and sighed dramatically. “The library is closed for the end of the year.” I could see that for a book lover of her caliber, these were ominous words. Together, we started brainstorming how she could get her hands on more books once school was out. Zoe’s summer goal should come should come as no surprise–reading as much as possible.

The beginning of summer came and went and we had some trouble connecting. Often with younger students who don’t have their own phones or email addresses, I end up relying on already busy caregivers to help set up meetings. Add camp and vacations into the mix, and there can be delays in finding a time to meet. Once I saw her, she was rereading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the 10th time and desperate for something new. A little research on the computer and a call to the local library and we’d struck up a plan. The next time I saw her we met at her house and braved the summer rain to walk the twenty minutes down the road to the library. When we walked in, she took a moment to breathe in the quiet shelves in front of her. She threw her arms in the air, smiled at me and exclaimed, “I’ve found my place!”

We spent the next hour looking at book after book and even made her an email address so she could download e-books directly onto her Kindle. Even if she can’t make it physically back to the library, she has thousands of books at her fingertips from the comfort of her own home. On the walk back, we excitedly discussed all the books we had seen. It’s nice to know that even if we can’t connect for a couple weeks, she has many worlds to discover and her passion for reading is thriving.

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About the Author

Kelsey is an Education Specialist at Treehouse who works with students to ensure they have the tools they need to achieve academic success, set personally meaningful goals, and pursue their dreams.

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