Sasha Pierre, a fifth-grade student at the Jackson/Mann K-8 School in Allston, was recently awarded the inaugural Student Spotlight Award for her positive attitude towards learning and her exemplary relationship with her mentor.

Last week, Jackson/Mann K-8 student Sasha Pierre became the recipient of our inaugural Student Spotlight Award. New for our 2021 AMP Awards, the Student Spotlight Award will be presented annually to a BPS student who has shown a positive attitude toward classmates, school, and their community.

Though only in fifth-grade, Sasha has displayed a mature appreciation for her personal growth and academic responsibility. Matched with a mentor to improve her skills in English Language Arts (ELA), Sasha quickly showed an eagerness to read and engage in ELA activities that were both difficult and new to her. Sasha’s teacher Mr. Linville took notice of her incredible growth and submitted her nomination for the award.

“Sasha is a role model in her classroom and a student who has come a long way in a very short period of time with her education,” said Mr. Linville. “Sasha has been able to improve her reading skills – specifically in the areas of decoding skills, comprehension, summarizing, and predicting.”

Once a week, Sasha meets with her mentor Jenny over Zoom. The pair began reading books and practicing Sasha’s reading comprehension while BPS students were still learning from home. Soon, they developed a learning process that worked well for Sasha: the two would take turns reading chapters to each other and Sasha would input her answers into a shared Google Doc.

“We started from a good place,” explains Jenny. “We worked on reading comprehension, and summarizing text, making predictions, and inferencing – higher-level reading skills.”

Sasha’s positive attitude set the tone for her mentoring sessions. When the pair needed a break from ELA practice, Sasha would show Jenny her favorite stuffed animals and they would chat about Sasha’s interests. One of her favorite artists is JoJo Siwa, a popular YouTube personality and dancer. Sasha is a dancer herself and enjoyed sharing her love of music and art with Jenny. “Sasha’s joy and enthusiasm are just so contagious,” says Jenny.

When Sasha’s class was assigned a book report earlier this year, Mr. Linville found a way to incorporate Sasha’s favorite YouTuber into the school assignment. “It was the first book that we read together from start to finish,” Jenny recalls. “And Mr. L. knew exactly what would motivate her – a JoJo Siwa chapter book called JoJo and Bobo Take the Stage.

For this important report, Sasha was tasked with reading a chapter a week and answering comprehension questions in a template created by her teacher. “Sasha could answer all the questions.” Jenny explains, “It showed me that she read and understood the text that we read together over those preceding weeks. She was able to summarize well, share opinions, and make predictions.”

After Sasha completed her book report, she proudly decorated her project with color and pictures. Mr. Linville hung it on the classroom wall for viewing. The first thing Sasha did when she returned to the classroom was show Jenny the wall where her book report was displayed.

Soon, Jenny and Mr. Linville found that Sasha was able to do the same assignment on less preferred topics thanks to the foundation the pair had put in place. Jenny attributes Sasha’s growth to her consistent hard work and determination. She recalls one moment that stands out to her – when they were nearing the end of a mentoring session and Sasha wasn’t finished with her worksheet.

“If I left the Zoom, then she wouldn’t have the shared Google Doc up on her screen to write down her answers,” Jenny said. So, Sasha asked Jenny to wait. “She said, ‘I really want to finish – I’m almost done, I want to finish the worksheet that I’m doing!’” explains Jenny. “That was just a great example of her commitment and her work ethic.”

We’re so proud of Sasha’s willingness to go above and beyond to enrich her learning, and we know her future is bright. Just like her idol JoJo Siwa, she is ready for the spotlight!