Talking with Kat in the charter school courtyard at Methodist Children’s Home is not a simple task, but for good reason. The 16-year-old greets and hugs nearly every person who walks by. Every teacher is her “favorite teacher.”
Energetic from the moment you meet her, Kat welcomes everyone in with a smile and a desire to know them better. It’s hard to imagine she wasn’t always this bubbly and outgoing. In fact, Kat would have described herself as reserved before coming to MCH.
“I didn’t like to talk much when I was younger,” Kat said. “I was always shy. When I came to MCH, I met people who wanted to get to know me and I started talking a lot more.”
Rachel Yglecias, Kat’s teacher and Student Council sponsor, has observed her growth since meeting her last August.
“Kat has grown tremendously since I met her,” Yglecias said. “As a freshman, she struggled making new friends and advocating for herself. Now, she’s able to make friends and she can tell me exactly what she needs to be successful in class. It’s been amazing to see how much she’s grown as a student and a young lady.”
Not only has Kat grown into a more talkative person, she’s also found her voice in singing. Kat’s interests vary from drawing to karate and she has participated in almost every extracurricular activity available to youth at MCH. Singing in the choir, however, is one of her favorites.
Performing didn’t always come naturally to Kat. Though she has always loved to sing, she wasn’t comfortable doing it in front of people.
“I’m braver since being at MCH,” she said. “When I was younger, I was going to perform but panicked because there were so many people in the audience. It scared me and I ran off stage. Since I’ve been here, I feel like I’ve become more confident.”
Coming out of her shell and getting used to performing has been an important part of Kat’s experience at MCH. Singing is clearly important to her and one of her dreams is to be on a television show like The Voice.
One of the things she attributes her growth to is help from her choir director, MCH Spiritual Development Minister Jillian Sims.
“When Kat first joined our music program in Spiritual Development, she was nervous to sing in front of her peers for fear of being judged,” Sims said. “However, Kat’s tenacity and great love for singing pushed her to take every opportunity she could to sing in worship and other events. Her persistence and bravery have afforded her the ability to confidently say ‘yes’ to every opportunity to share her talents today.”
Sims helps Kat gain courage by offering correction, encouragement and helping her connect to the songs she performs.
“Kat has an extensive knowledge of Disney songs and is particularly fond of the stories of individuals who overcame their own fears and limiting beliefs to realize their true potential,” Sims said. “Connecting Kat to the messages in those songs while challenging her musically and encouraging her to share the gifts she has helps reinforce those truths in her own life and grow in confidence.”
That confidence will continue to carry Kat through whatever path she chooses to take in her future. Until then, she’ll continue to invest her time in all MCH has to offer.
*Student’s name has been changed.