Jackson Oglesby, a recent MLK Magnet High School graduate, has been a youth volunteer leader for the past year, leading a weekly four-hour tutoring project with Backfield In Motion.
The first time I volunteered with Backfield in Motion, a local mentoring program, I was in awe. When I initially signed up to mentor 80-plus middle school-aged boys, I prepared myself for craziness. Reflecting on my own middle school experience, I expected to walk into a chaotic room.
To my surprise, upon my first hour working with the kids, I discovered that these boys were not only incredibly polite, but also extremely eager to learn. Seeing how they acted in a classroom environment, I realized that they were more mature than a lot of my high school classmates!
After three years of dedication to Backfield in Motion, I can say that these are some of the best kids I have ever seen. Every Saturday the boys came in prepared and ready to participate. They cleaned up after themselves and were extremely respectful in the classroom. In the course of the three years I volunteered with Backfield, there were few instances where I witnessed a crazy classroom. For the most part, these kids were the perfect students. In fact, most Saturdays, I was the one who felt unprepared. It was a major challenge to re-learn a lot of the course material I hadn’t studied since my own middle school days.
Inside and outside of the classroom, the kids treated me with as much respect as one of their teachers. Not only did they listen to me when I offered individual help, but they also included me in personal conversations outside of the classroom. Volunteering with Backfield not only gave me a new-found respect for teachers, but also helped me to realize how beneficial and essential programs like Backfield are to making positive changes in the community.