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Alanna learns to lead

February 15, 2018

Alanna B. joined the Hazelwood Middle School Out of School time summer program on the very first day. She and her family had previously participated in another Family & School Services program at a nearby elementary school until she graduated from that school in spring  2017.

Alanna was considered “painfully shy” by those who knew her. Her mother, while enrolling Alanna, said her daughter, “doesn’t like to talk. If you can get more than a couple of words out of her, you’re doing good.”

Alanna’s shyness showed up the first two weeks of programming. She attended the program with her two cousins, but never ventured far from either of them. She became visibly uncomfortable when called on for a response in a group setting. Alanna would either gaze down at the floor waiting for someone else to be called on, shrug her shoulders, or respond in so low a tone that it was inaudible, even to the person sitting right next to her.

Staff continued to encourage Alanna in group settings and one-on-one conversations to attempt to motivate her to be more confident and participate. Peers liked and respected Alanna, and it was not long before other students encouraged her to speak up and participate. Through peer encouragement, “partner” activities, and other exercises staff facilitated deliberately to encourage “mingling” among participants, Alanna slowly became more comfortable.

By the end of the summer, Alanna was leading group activities and speaking loudly enough that everyone could hear. She rejoined the program in the fall, without her cousins, and signed up to participate in “Dance Club.” On the very first day of fall program, in front of many strange faces, Alanna volunteered to lead the daily reflection portion of the program, a reflection of her impressive growth.