March 2022 TeamMates of the Month: I Have Her in My Corner
After graduating from North Star High School this spring, Ebony has four goals: attend Southeast Community College, move to a Florida beachtown, own a pet cow, and stay close with her TeamMate Stacey.
“She’s going to be my best friend. Well, she already is my best friend, but then I can hang out with her outside of school,” says Ebony.
“What should we do?” asks Stacey, her mentor of six years.
“You know…I was thinking,” says Ebony, “I want to go pet cows.”
“She loves cows,” laughs Stacey.
Ebony can’t wait to graduate. “I’m excited to move on and move forward and see what my life has to bring.”
“It is exciting,” says Stacey. “So many years and memories.” Some of their favorites include finding the perfect slime recipe, decorating gingerbread houses, going for walks, and many crafts.
Ebony was a sixth grader at Lefler when they were matched. They first played cards and mancala, crafted, and got to know each other. “I knew I could be open and tell her whatever was going on,” she says. “I could tell her, ‘Today’s not a good day’ and she would say, ‘Let’s sit down and talk about it.’ I didn’t feel like I had to pretend it was okay. I felt like I had her in my corner.”
Stacey’s encouragement helped Ebony build confidence in herself to overcome challenges. When Ebony was attending school virtually amidst the pandemic, she Zoomed with Stacey, and in tears, talked about her grades slipping and the stresses of remote learning.
Together, they were able to identify some school staff members Ebony could contact, and Ebony wasted no time putting their plan into action. “As we’re meeting she’s emailing two teachers,” says Stacey. “She started figuring out who around her she could tap into for support and she recognized she didn’t have to do it by herself. She figured it all out right then and there, and she felt so much better by the end of our meeting.”
“Ebony, that was all you,” says Stacey. “I was just there to support you.”
Ebony believes their friendship has helped her learn to advocate for herself even when it takes effort. “I’m a pretty quiet person,” she says. “Today I was supposed to ask a teacher to retake a test and I was like ‘Ugh, I don’t want to get up and ask,’ but I heard that little voice in the back of my head that sounded like Stacey, saying ‘Come on, get up, go ask.’”
“Last year was really tough and Stacey kept telling me you got this,” says Ebony. “When I finally passed math, my biggest struggle, I was like, ‘You know what, I do got this. I’m going to do amazing, and I did do amazing. And I still am!”