Jorge Garcia has been coming to Project Transformation’s after school program at Elmwood since 2012 when he was in the 5th grade. For the most part Jorge has always been a quiet kid, rarely saying too much but overall a great participant in the program.
Every week Jorge’s mother would ask us how he was doing in the program and whether or not he was behaving and our reply would always be the same, ” Jorge is wonderful while he’s here, and we’ve never had any problems with him at all.” However, every time we said that his mother would look at us as if she didn’t believe us, but say “okay” and nothing more. Finally, one day when she asked her usual question, we stopped her and asked if there was anything going on that would cause her to continually ask her question about Jorge. With tears in her eyes, she explained that “at school they label Jorge because he is in special education classes because of his ADHD. His teachers treat him like he is dumb and don’t give him a fair chance. As a result, he sometimes acts up in class.” We expressed our sympathy that this was happening at Jorge’s school and reassured her that Jorge is a model student while he is at Project Transformation. She thanked us but still had a troubled look on her face as though she wasn’t sure whether or not we were telling the truth.
A few weeks later we began to give the program participants literacy assessments to see how they had improved in their reading since we first tested them at the beginning of the year. Jorge’s scores went up significantly, and we were excited to show his mother in hopes she would finally believe the good things we had been saying about her son. Once we showed her Jorge’s test scores, she began to cry and thanked us for giving Jorge a chance when it seemed like no one else would.
Jorge, now a 6th grader, has come out of his shell and is very outgoing. He is always willing to help out other children with their homework once he has finished with his, and every intern makes no hesitation to call on him for a leadership role during site, whether it’s helping set up for an activity or even leading the activity by giving out instructions to his peers. “We treat Jorge as if he is a mini intern, because he shows us daily that he is more than capable of handling the responsibilities we give him,” Emma Cepeda, a work study student from SMU, explained to Jorge’s mother. One of our most proud moments was when Jorge got his report card for this last 6 weeks and explained he had gotten a 100 in his History class. “Miss, that’s never happened before!” he said. Jorge was also named Elmwood’s Student of the Month during our last Family Fun Night in February. According to Jorge’s mother, because of the leadership opportunities he has been given at Project Transformation, Jorge now feels confident enough to join in more extracurricular activities and even tutors 3rd graders after school on Tuesdays.
The interns at Elmwood are very proud of Jorge’s progress throughout the time he has spent with Project Transformation and know he will continue to excel, not only in our program but in any avenue he chooses to go in.