Student helps out her old school

Presidents Elementary fourth-grader Jesse Wellman receives tutoring from former Presidents student Morgan Daigneault, now a seventh-grader at Haller Middle School. - Kirk Boxleitner
Presidents Elementary fourth-grader Jesse Wellman receives tutoring from former Presidents student Morgan Daigneault, now a seventh-grader at Haller Middle School.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — Presidents Elementary is no longer Morgan Daigneault’s school, but the Haller Middle School seventh-grader still loves coming back to the classroom of her former fourth-grade teacher, Cindy Striker, and when Morgan has had the chance to help out the students of Presidents, she’s done it.

Morgan’s grandmother, Debbie Jackson, credits the girl with helping to inspire a multi-year school supplies collection drive for students in need at Presidents, and Striker has found that her former pupil has quite the knack for teaching her younger peers.

Jackson, who serves as manager of the Arlington American Legion Post 76 Lounge, heard from Morgan two years ago how a number of her fifth-grade classmates at Presidents weren’t able to afford the school supplies they needed, so the Legion Lounge took up collections, both two years ago and this past September.

“We generated about $400 the first time,” Jackson said, noting that Morgan has been volunteering at the Legion Lounge and helping her grandma out with keeping track of its finances. “This past fall, we raised about $30 for each of the 20 students who were identified as in need at Presidents, but we were also able to send another $600 to students in need at Haller.”

In return, the Legion Lounge recently received a bound booklet of 24 letters from Presidents Elementary students, thanking the Arlington Legion for its generosity.

“I still haven’t been able to read all of hem yet, because some of these letters just made me cry,” Jackson said. “More than a few of the kids who took the time to write in didn’t even benefit from the school supplies collection drive themselves. There’s such empathy and compassion on display in these pages that I plan to laminate them, so that I can keep them forever.”

Just as Jackson expressed her gratitude to the students of Presidents Elementary, whose thank-you letters frequently bore handmade patriotic illustrations, so too did Jackson proudly tout the role played by her granddaughter in inspiring this collection drive, especially since Morgan has continued to contribute to the students of Presidents as one of their peer tutors.

Every other Tuesday afternoon, Morgan takes a shortcut through the houses between Haller Middle School and Presidents Elementary, so that she can help out fellow students like fourth-grader Jesse Wellman.

“I’ve been thinking of coming every Tuesday, because I love it so much,” said Morgan, who rotates between tutoring Jesse and two of Striker’s other students. “Mrs. Striker was my favorite teacher, because she was so nice and encouraging that it helped me to learn better.”

Since Morgan is equally fond of writing, math, history and science, she’s well-equipped to tutor Striker’s students in a variety of subjects, although she admitted that she wishes now that “I’d paid better attention to some of my lessons back then.”

As such, Morgan feels like she can relate to Striker, since Jesse, while enthusiastic, often needs to get preliminary discussions about Minecraft out of his system before he can concentrate on his studies.

“It can be hard to get him to pay attention sometimes,” Morgan said of Jesse, who readily agreed with her assessment.

“I look forward to learning from her though,” Jesse said of Morgan, who drilled him with flash cards on Tuesday, March 18, to help him with his fractions.

“She’s willing to take the initiative and able to do what needs to be done,” Striker said of Morgan, who has suggested to her former teacher which subjects she should tutor her students on, and on which days. “She can drive the car.”

Striker went on to praise Morgan as a hard worker who never quits an assignment, as well as a kind-hearted soul who wants to help out however she can.

“When I saw her name on the list of kids who wanted to do peer tutoring, I was thrilled,” Striker said. “She’s the most gentle, thoughtful girl, but she will also succeed because she has a drive.”

“I hope to come back here next year, but I probably won’t be able to after that, because I don’t think I can walk the distance from the high school,” Morgan said.


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