Almost two years ago, the Mayor's Star Council ventured out and committed to mentoring 30 sophomore students. When you see "30 students" you immediately think this is going to be something really surface level. Something we cannot truly commit to. We will give it our best, but can't guarantee this is really sustainable.
Then you meet them. 30 students. They might not look like me. They may not be raised in the same way I was. But they absolutely have a heart that beats in the same way mine does, and they have forever stolen my heart.
Last year the Mayor's Star Council again committed to mentoring 30 students, 6 students from 5 south Dallas schools; Adamson, South Oak Cliff, Madison, Roosevelt and Lincoln. We went in anticipating that we would pour our entire lives into their life for one year, graduate them and start over with the next class of sophomores. Well, a year later we have 30 juniors and 30 sophomores, engaged as ever and not going anywhere. We even went as far as to have a graduation ceremony for the sophomores (now juniors) and they still begged for us to stay…so we did.
The only way I know to share the story of Mayor's Rising Star Council (MRSC) is to share the many things they have taught me (in order of sappiness).
(1) KIK – yeah, it's an app. One where you can talk (until ALL hours of the morning) on group text with one another. I had to come up with a creative name (I think it's christielynn) and then they could message me, even if their phone service was turned off…as long as there was wifi. I sometimes have to remind them that I am old and they need to stop texting so I can go to sleep…
(2) There are so many words that are now "cool" that I can't even begin to pronounce
(3) High Schoolers are easy to love, they just want you to pay them some attention
(4) Students, do not want to be known for the stereotype the city gives them…they want to be asked who they are and THEY want to tell you who they are
(5) Neighborhoods and schools can change, when you give students the opportunity to show you how
(6) MRSC kids have pride in their communities, they sometimes just need someone to guide them to the why and how…once they figure it out, you better watch out, they will blow you away
(7) They get "it". Better than I ever did. I am envious for what they have learned and know. Their wisdom is pure and thoughtful. They genuinely understand the challenges and are willing to create solutions, even if they are difficult.
(8) If you empower students, they will speak boldly. This is my favorite story. Recently, we took students to a debate where "adults" were talking about City of Dallas politics. One of the questions was DIRECTLY about GrowSouth and the impact it is having on the city. Two of the adults answered in a way that was offensive to the students. I was standing across the room and one of the students texted me (which I still have saved) and said, "Ms. Christie, they are talking about us…but they've never been to our neighborhood…they don't know. If it were not for GrowSouth, we wouldn't be where we are today." After the debate, the students, together, went and talked respectfully to each person and INVITED them to attend their next MRSC meeting so they could better understand what GrowSouth has done for them and how they have experienced opportunities they would have otherwise not experienced. I have tears rolling down my cheek recalling the story because IT IS EXACTLY why we started out on this journey. To teach students and empower them to speak out about who they really are and how they can be leaders of change.
(9) These kids have become my brothers and sisters. When I first started this journey, I was talking with one of the Dallas ISD Executive Directors and my voice was laced with fear. I didn't look like these kids and was not sure what I could offer them. I didn't know anything about where they were from or the challenges they experienced. I am almost embarrassed by my fear. The ED took his hand and reached out to my right shoulder, looked me dead in the eyes and said "Christie, these kids don't care what you look like or what you have experienced in life. They care that you are entering their community. So stand up and pour your life into them." I did just that. Today, I cried reading texts from them of their gratefulness for MRSC and for the commitment we have given them.
(10) There are 159,000 other kids. We have done a great job with 60 kids. But it's not enough. There are still 159,000 other Dallas ISD kids who need people to just simply care. It is up to others to take the charge and start making a difference…might I just remind you, these kids ARE OUR FUTURE.
Forever changed because of MRSC.
- Christie Myers -