Out of nineteen summers, this by far had to be the most humid, eye-opening summer I’ve ever experienced.

I am not in any way, shape or form associated with the education field. I’m majoring in public relations, so from the get-go I knew I needed to be prepared for anything. My mom is a teacher, so I had the few words of wisdom she had passed on to me as the first day approached.

I did not know what to expect. Through the training courses and webinars I had gained a little insight, but it was still a completely different atmosphere with your own classroom, kids and lesson plans.

I had all these grand ideas the room decor. I spent endless hours searching on sites such as Pinterest to try and bring out my inner creativity. I love decorating spaces and I was thrilled to be able to decorate a space that not only I would enjoy, but the kids as well. I chose an “Under the Sea” theme in light of Finding Dory being released, and the endless amount of underwater decorations on the clearance shelves at Target.

With theme in mind, I set out for the local training on June 16th/17th as well as the statewide training that was held in Morgantown, WV (also where I attend college) on June 20th.

June 21st was the day we stepped into the hosting schools and our new sanctuaries for the summer. My classroom happened to be a music room, which ended up being very pleasant because of the ample space provided. I set out cleaning, decorating, and putting each center together so that the kids would be ready to engage in learning for the summer as soon as they stepped inside.

I tried to make this area a safe haven. I knew that some of the kids, especially from my area, may have not grown up in the best way. I wanted to make them feel comfortable and relaxed so that they truly could enjoy their experience for the summer.

I ended up having five (which then turned into four) kids – all kindergarten/first grade age. It was challenging at first, because I’m not around such young children and I have not been in the mind of a six year-old in some time. It took creativity, improvising and many, many books, but we made it.

They all had one trait in common that they loved: art. It was fascinating seeing how creative these young children can be, especially since I have not been around this age very much. I was surprised at how knowledgeably and funny these kids could be. Each one had their own distinct personality, which was also intriguing to see each of them develop and grow through the six weeks we were together. From being super shy and hardly talking on the first day to barely being quiet by the last day was a remarkable experience to witness.

August 5th was the last day. It was a very bittersweet day. After growing attached to all of the kids at the site, taking down the decorations in the room and seeing them gather all of their work, it was a finality that it was officially over.

I’m extremely glad and grateful that I did Energy Express. The bonds with the kids is something that I will never, ever forget. I hope I get to see them if I’m out and about just to see how they are doing. I hope that one day they look back and think fondly of their 2016 summer. I hope that one day they open the books they received and re-read the notes of positivity and encouragement I wrote for them each week. I hope to be able to keep being a Mentor, simply because the reward is much greater than any summer job or internship can ever offer.