The Gift of Gabby, a reflection by Taylor Mavrakos

Gabby wasn’t the loudest person in the room. In the beginning, she didn’t ask questions, never shared her work, and essentially kept to herself. She had no desire to show anyone up in class, or to make the best story. Gabby seemed convinced she was just another student waiting for the final bell.

Gabby_my quincesThe weeks went on, and I started to notice something different about Gabby. I didn’t dare point it out, for fear of embarrassing her, but gradually her fingers went from reluctantly tapping the keys on her laptop to swiftly gliding over every letter. She wrote a page quicker than most students typed two sentences. I am unsure who figured it out first, myself or Gabby, but I like to think she did. Gabby is a writer.

Learning about perspective, and creating images to match her thoughts, inspired Gabby to write them down. Once she started, she couldn’t stop. She wanted to explain every detail, and went beyond expectations for the exercises I administered. LTP gave Gabby what seems impossible when you first start to write: foundation. She wanted to write about her “Quinces” (or Quinceañera, a Latin American celebration that marks a girl’s transition from childhood to adulthood at the age of 15), but was unclear where to start. Then we talked about the importance of perspective, and framing a photograph. Gabby pictured herself sitting, dreaming about whether or not her Quinces would be in Mexico. Her photograph depicts the initial inspiration for the writing that followed. Once she harnessed this vision, Gabby was able to write about her Quinces, the issues with hosting it in Mexico, and the final decision to have her Quinces in the US. Once Gabby had some ground, a place from which to build, she thrived. Suddenly, a seventh grader had enough inspiration to address mature topics like her own coming of age, and the struggles occurring in Mexico. LTP gave Gabby opportunity for creativity, and support to foster that creativity. Support came from LTP facilitators, teachers, and even other students. For instance, Gabby ultimately asked Carlotta to be in her picture, because Gabby wanted to make sure the framing was exactly as she envisioned. So, she acted as the photographer directing the shot. This leadership was another boost in Gabby’s confidence.

The greatest moment in my LTP journey so far was when I detected that Gabby had enough confidence in her talent that I could praise her achievement. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Gabby, you’re a great writer. Keep it up.”

And the girl who was hesitant to stand out didn’t blush, didn’t bow her head and didn’t shy away in embarrassment. She just smiled and kept typing.

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