We are still accepting applications for students interested in volunteering with youth mentorship at Portage Trail Community School!
If interested, click here!
Here is a reflection from Jovan Glenn*, a volunteer last year and this year’s Student Project Lead.
originally published March 2015
Prior to this school year I honestly had no idea what the Centre for Community Partnerships was. The first time I heard about the CCP was around the beginning of the school year, when a good friend of mine by the mane of Yusuf told me he was getting involved in a community project. He explained the bare bones of the project – an opportunity to mentor younger kids and show them that University is not out of reach, but my interest was piqued when he mentioned that the program would take place at Rockliffe Middle School. An opportunity to get involved in a school in my community, and work with one of my greatest friends seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up.
Then, as if by means of fate (if you believe in that kind of stuff), the program switched from Rockliffe Middle School to Potage Trail Community Middle School, meaning that I was going to be volunteering at the school I used to attend. My disappointment in not meeting the Rockliffe kids notwithstanding, this was probably the most excited I’d ever been for a project. Although I’ve visited my high school every year since I graduated, and have even dropped by my elementary school every so often, I had never returned to Portage since I left. Mind you, this wasn’t out of my disdain for Portage or anything of the sort, it’s just that I never really had the opportunity. I believe that my time at Portage had an enormous effect in shaping who I am today, and to be able to roam those halls again, see teachers whom I still admire, all while giving back to the school was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
Our first day at Portage as mentors was fantastic, and a surreal experience for myself. As Ms. Broomfield (who coordinated this program on Portage’s end) walked us through the halls I knew like the back of my hand, I couldn’t help but remember little moments that happened when I was a Middle Schooler. It was as if actually seeing those tiny blue chairs and tiny water fountains triggered memories of friends whom I still keep in touch with to this day. Which brings me to another point: everything felt much smaller! I know I might’ve grown a bit since middle school, but when I was younger I thought Portage was a pretty large school. I guess it’s all about perspective.
The kids at Portage were a delight to work with, and honestly reminded me a bit of myself and my old classmates. There were kids who were initially shy yet inquisitive, there were kids who were a bit more outgoing and hyperactive, and you had kids who were bit of both – shy at first but then more vocal as they got more comfortable around us. They were mirror images of ourselves as kids, and honestly probably a lot smarter. I saw kids using Microsoft Office tools much more effectively than I could when I was 13 years old. The kids had bright ideas, and as mentors we were surprised at the end of it how energetic they could be at 8 AM, a task that was nearly impossible for us on most days. Those students were a joy to work with, and they may or may not know this, but they are extremely fortunate to have a teacher like Ms. Broomfield. There is an authenticity to her love for the students, and the work she puts in to ensure that they are well prepared for the future exemplifies that. As most students know there are only a handful of teachers you’ll ever experience who genuinely care, and I can definitely say that Ms. Broomfield is one of them.
I want to personally thank everybody involved in this project, from my good friend Yusuf and every mentor who was a part of this! I want to also thank Kristina Minnella, who coordinated this program from the U of T end, and who is as caring and thoughtful as any teacher you’ll ever meet. I want to also give a quick shout-out to the kids at Portage, good luck in High School and make the most of your time there! To Ms. Dehal, thank you for building my appreciation for Science (although I may never truly understand it) and to Mr. Patel, sorry for being as blissfully ignorant as I was in middle school, but let’s be honest here, 7A was (and will always be) your best class! Thanks again!
University of Toronto, Class of 2016
Economics and Political Science Major