December 2016 TeamMates of the Month: Chatting and Common Interests
Sandi Witkowicz and Sadie first started meeting while Sadie was in 4th grade. Their meeting time began in the middle of the last period of school. When their time was up, Sandi recalled, Sadie would walk down the hall of her elementary school to finish out her day in the after-school program. Sadie is now in 8th grade.
Sadie remembered that when they first started meeting they would read and work on crafting projects. “We got these little acrylic beads and we would make bracelets. And we would read, from, I think it was A Lantern in her Hand.” They would read approximately a chapter each week.
Sandi said she had checked with Sadie’s School Facilitator to make sure that it was a book that was age appropriate for Sadie. She had chosen it because it is a book that she loves. It came to mind because of Sadie’s interest in attending the Heritage School. Sadie explained that attending the Heritage School is a 4th grade field trip where students get to dress up in clothes that children of the 1880’s would have worn and actually see what it was like to attend school in that time period. The book was written by a Nebraska author, Sandi said, and the setting for the story is a small prairie town near Lincoln. There are several references to the “new” Capital City of Lincoln. During their meeting time, Sadie would also draw and color pictures while Sandi read.
At the beginning of 6th grade they started reading the sequel, but haven’t finished it yet, because their relationship has developed and they spend the entire time that they are together talking.
Sadie felt that they developed a trusting relationship early on. “She is just such an open, caring person, she’s almost like a 3rd grandma and it was really easy. I just felt the connection right away.”
Sadie said the relationship has changed, from activities to relationship based. She looks forward to the meetings because it is “a part of my day where I can really catch up. We don’t do activities anymore, which is fine with me. We just talk which is good. Because I have a lot of things to talk about. You don’t always have the right person to share it with. She was someone I could always talk to.”
Sandi said she finds meeting with Sadie to be a very special part of her week. “Sadie makes our relationship special. She’s very honest and forthcoming. She is sweet and smart. She’s just easy to be with.”
“I think this relationship is really special,” Sadie said, “because you are kind of like my best friend and my grandma mixed together. I look at you as a person I can always trust and I can go to you for anything and you are always understanding.”
Sadie shared an example of Sandi’s advice. “A few weeks ago I was having trouble with my math grade. You really told me to start studying more and to ask the teacher what I could do to help. It worked.” Her grade has been steadily improving, she said.
Sandi proudly shared that in their time together they have learned that they have many common interests. “I enjoyed attending her concerts and completing crafts with her. We both enjoy reading.”
When asked what she’s gained from being in TeamMates, Sadie said, “a new best friend.”
“I’ve gained a new best friend,” Sandi said, and she has also gained a better understanding of the way life works out. “We all have things we have to go through. Everybody’s life is different. We are all put on this earth to help each other get through some of that.”
Sandi explained that she had missed some of their meeting weeks because of a family illness. “Sadie has been super-understanding. We don’t talk about it that much, but knowing that she’s understanding of why I couldn’t be here, adds more depth to our relationship.”
Sadie said she looks forward to meeting with Sandi. When she is at home and checking the next day’s calendar and realizes that, “Oh, I get to meet with Sandi tomorrow,” she will think about the things she wants to discuss the next day. “Or sometimes, something will happen and I think, I’ll have to tell Sandi about that.”
“I feel really lucky,” Sandi said. “I’m just interested to meet with her so I can find out what is going on with her and hearing about what happened last week.” More importantly, they focus on what is coming up, what Sadie is looking forward to doing and what she is excited about.
“She is so talented,” Sandi said. “She has competition goals in mind for golf. She is also a musician. She plays the cello and the viola. Right now she is also involved in the school play and she is in the gifted English program. She keeps up with all of her grades. She sets academic goals and has defined goals for high school, going to college and even what she needs to do during 8th grade.” When they first started, Sandi sensed that Sadie wasn’t overly excited about school. “It is fun to see her become more engaged in school and her activities. I am excited for her and her future.”
Sadie said the most important lesson she has learned is to “shoot for the stars.” She said, “At first being TeamMates might seem kind of weird, because the TeamMates don’t know each other, but as the relationship develops both people open up more. You realize it is a friend for life situation.”