By: Pallavi Rudraraju
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
As I near the start of After School Programs in Fairfax County, and head into my fourth month as the VA Middle School Program Coordinator, I feel so grateful for a wonderful beginning to my journey in the VA Middle School Program. Over the past few months, I have worked with MD and VA high schoolers during their leadership retreat, co-facilitated the VA MIC CHECK Summer Program, and learned immensely along the way.
One important lesson that I took away from this summer was setting high expectations. I was told, that if I set high expectations and standards, I will be amazed by the results. While this lesson was meant in regards to youth work and programming, I believe it is applicable to nearly any kind of situation – in one’s personal, professional, and academic lives, in their self-expectations as well as their expectations of others.
Throughout this summer, in the VA MIC CHECK Program, we set high expectations for our middle school and high school youth with their storytelling projects. Almost every day during programs, they would come together in teams and consistently work on their group projects. And by the time we had our final presentations on the last day of Summer Programs, they all blew it out of the park.
If there’s been one constant in my few months at AALEAD, it’s that I should expect to be surprised and amazed by what our youth can do. I think it is proof that at AALEAD, youth are able to build confidence in themselves and we can equip them with important tools, or lessons, that help them reach their goals. It is my goal, heading into the VA Middle School After School Program for this year, that I will be able to support our new and returning youth as they set their own high expectations for themselves and we will provide them with the tools that would help each and every one of them succeed.