Today we continue our Summer Fellows' Final Reflection series. Former Fellow Gabby Nicholas shares her thoughts about how the PLUS Center changed this year. Gabby will be continuing advocating for students while living in Chicago. 

As our seniors count the days until graduation, it’s impossible not to reflect back on the year. We spent a full year with these students, advising, mentoring, and offering academic support. I’m reminded of the advising appointments, the SAT workshops, the financial aid forms, and the Center where everything happens.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking around our PLUS Center during the last few days of school, and as my eyes survey the room, I can’t help but smile. Every wall in the room is covered with something that either advertises, informs, or inspires.

This year, our team was extremely intentional in using the space to maximize student engagement. From posters advertising different post-secondary paths and upcoming campus tours to paper crafts and motivational notes made by students, our Center has no shortage of things to look at.

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From posters advertising different post-secondary paths and upcoming campus tours to paper crafts and motivational notes made by students, our Center has no shortage of things to look at.

These pieces of paper play into bigger themes at 12 Plus: consistency and collaboration. We are in our Center every day with our students, and they’ve come to recognize our presence as a constant within the school. The posters serve a similar purpose: students can rely on getting information from both us and the material we have scattered around the room. During lunch, it’s common to see students flipping through the scholarship binder, or checking the senior wall to find out which students applied for college/trade school.

Similar to a word search puzzle, our Center has information, but students have to take the initiative to find the material and read it.

Similar to a word search puzzle, our Center has information, but students have to take the initiative to find the material and read it.

 

In regards to collaboration, some of my favorite memories this year have been when we laid out crafting supplies on a table during lunch, and encouraged students to participate in the project. Around Thanksgiving, we made hand turkeys with our students. Before Winter Break, one of our sophomores taught everyone how to make paper snowflakes. Days after the project, students would come in with their friends and make them guess which craft was theirs.

The PLUS Center isn’t our space, it’s the students’.

Before moving to Philadelphia for my Fellowship, I was living in the small college town of Gainesville. I had never lived in a big city, worked in a school, or heard the word “jawn.” After this year, I can successfully say that I’ve become familiar with SEPTA, learned the ins and outs of our high school, and finally understood how to use “jawn” in a sentence. Those things aside, it’s been an incredible experience to hold such a unique role in our school and contribute to its mission of student success.

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