“I just didn’t think I’d get through to her and I did.”

Early on in the 2012-2013 school year, Ren received the list of students she’d be working with and one name in particular stuck out to her: Netta.*


Ren had been working in Netta’s classroom since the beginning of the year, but for some reason Netta had not warmed up to Ren and was sometimes dismissive. Ren still made every attempt to connect with Netta, but she knew that she could not force a relationship.

When Ren’s City Year program manager led a team reflection activity that required her to put a sticker on the back of her nametag with the name of a student who she wanted to get to know better, she quickly picked Netta.

One day outside at recess, Ren approached Netta and her friends to check in for the day. Netta got upset and tried to encourage everyone to move to a different part of the playground, away from Ren. Her friends didn’t listen, so Netta reached out and grabbed Ren’s nametag out of frustration. That’s when she noticed her name and asked why Ren had her name on the nametag.

“I have your name on my nametag because I want to work with you and get to know you. Each corps member picked one student they wanted to get closer to and I picked you.”

Netta’s eyes immediately lit up and Ren could tell that she had finally made the connection she had been attempting to make over the past couple of months. After that, Netta started participating more in class and started sharing more with Ren. Paired with Ren’s City Year tutoring strategies, Netta’s test scores reflected this positive change in behavior. Her test scores in both English and math increased dramatically, particularly in math which saw a 100% increase from the beginning of the year. Without this individualized tutoring and support from Ren, this improvement might not have been possible.


In addition to Netta’s trust, Ren gained new perspective. The nametag became a daily reminder that everybody is a work in progress and that things take time.

“I just didn’t think I’d get through to her and I did.”

Did you arrive here through our Enews appeal? Click here if you’re interested in making a donation to City Year Milwaukee

Did you arrive here on your own? Click on the following link to read our annual appeal letter: Thanks for having our back

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the student.


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