No, She’s My Partner!

The Rewards of Working With CBI Students

Lauren Curtis, Newspaper Editor-in-Chief

People go through life hoping that one day they would find something that brings them joy. They wait and just pray that one day this longing need to fulfill this empty space will go away. However, sometimes opportunities fall right into our laps and all we have to do is take a leap of faith. This year, I became a peer coach, and I don’t regret any part of just diving right into it. If you are considering working with the CBI kids, do it. It is the most rewarding experience and I promise you won’t regret just taking a leap of faith. 


Many people think that being a peer coach is too hard. There’s no way that they could do it, or that they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the students. Well, I thought that too at first, but over time, I have learned a lot about these wonderful students and it is rewarding to even be able to help them at least once a day. When I first walked into the classroom, Mrs. Dawson saw how nervous I was. She told me how the class worked and she told me how much she loves each and every kid, and she wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. At that time, I never really thought about what she said would be so true, but now I can’t even imagine my life without seeing these students every day.


Every morning, as soon as I walk into the CBI room, I’m greeted by Melissa with open arms, as she says my name in an ecstatic, high pitched tone. Before I can even take another step, Quinlyn rushes over and says “you look so pretty today” and gives me a hug. With every step, there is always another person greeting me as if it isn’t 8:30 in the morning. Even though it’s the first period of the day, somehow they are full of life, and always put a smile on my face. I don’t even need coffee to jump-start my mornings anymore, because the compassion shown by these kids makes my day bright and full of life. Working with them has been by far the best experience I could ask for. 


  Being a peer coach means that I make sure they are doing what they should do, assist them in their work, and provide support when needed. However, people always talk about how the interaction helps the students with disabilities, but nobody talks about how it helps the peer coaches. Even though I have not been working with them for a long time, it has been rewarding to work with them. Being with them everyday and watching them grow is one of the things that bring me the most joy. 


Whenever they light up from getting an answer right, or they get a good grade on their quiz, their joy radiates in the classroom. Sounds crazy, but being their partner when they’re proud of themselves warms my heart. I honestly think it is impossible to have a bad day whenever you are around them. The atmosphere is full of exuberant energy, compassion, and determination. Every day the CBI students are continuously ready to learn, determined to leave the classroom with new knowledge to share with someone. Whenever they get an answer wrong, they get frustrated but they ask questions until they finally understand. I mean every day I walk into the classroom and they tell me they are ready for their first period and then proceed to tell me the things they learned from the day before. However, if you were to ask me, I always learn something new from them too. 


Whether I learn something about their personality or how to motivate them on days they are tired, I am constantly learning different ways on how to interact with each one of them. One thing that is never really talked about is how your bond with them will fluctuate depending on who it is. Some of them I have stronger bonds with than others, and it’s hard to remember sometimes that every day could be different. For example, every day if other students walk up to me, Bella immediately walks over and says “no, she’s my partner!” However, the only time I am close to Kaden is when he is laughing and loves to give me hugs (and believe me I get as many hugs as he will give me), but there are also days that I know to keep my distance from him. Working with them in different moods can be tricky, but once you figure out how to work with them, they usually start to bond with you more. Sometimes all it takes is patience or other times it takes a bribe to get them to work, nonetheless being there for them when they are in different moods makes them appreciate you more.


Sometimes all the students need is a hug, someone to listen to them, or other times, they need someone to give them confidence whenever they doubt themselves. Being a peer coach is about more than just checking to make sure they are doing their work. It is about being someone that they can rely on, someone who can push them because you know they can do better, someone who believes in them even when they don’t. These students have so much heart, determination, and I know they will make it far in life. Being able to be the person that helps them reach their full potential is a reward of its own.


I know that these students will make it far in life, whether it is becoming a fashion designer to owning their own business. I am glad that I got the opportunity to work with these talented, hard-working people. I will cherish each hug, each talk, and little giggle that I share with every single one of them. It never fails, I walk out of the CBI room with a smile on my face, and most of the time in a better mood than when I walked into the classroom.