Today’s generation is growing up is different than all others before it — at least, that’s what all the adults say.
Adults are so quick to say how they can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up with the technology that we are exposed to, the social media ideology that we need to live up to, and the way that technology has affected our relationships and mental health. Yet few people take action to help youth navigate this life.
Teenagers always have had struggles, given the changes we are experiencing internally and externally. On top of that, we have had the pandemic, which isolated everyone from each other.
I am experiencing all these changes along with my peers. I have had my share of struggles throughout my life, but it takes a certain person to recognize and be there for you.
I met my mentor when I was a sophomore in high school, the fall before COVID struck. Jeanine Waldron was my honors English and creative writing teacher that year, and she saw something in me that I had yet to see in myself.
She became a confident and role model within my life. When school went online, I was halfway through my writing course and she went above and beyond to compensate for not being in the classroom. The stories and poems that I wrote became personal about my troubles and struggles, and she was someone who would listen and be a friend and a guide. Waldron would meet with me on Teams during her breaks from Ella and be a person to listen when the pandemic made me feel so alone.
She was someone would listen and never make any of my problems feel stupid, no matter the severity of the topic.
Not only did she provide life advice and listen, she took action in my life and helped support me. This past winter, one of my colleges needed a form filled out about a situation in my life, to which she was a witness. She wrote what she knew about the situation and was a supporting element for me, confirming and verifying my situation to a college and giving me a better chance of acceptance. She made sure that I had the best chance that I could possibly have to get into college.
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She didn’t have to do this, but she is someone who consistently goes above and beyond for not only me but many other students.
Mrs. Waldron’s job does not require her to spend her time off the clock supporting her students and making sure that they are OK, but that is the type of person she is. She is an advocate and someone I trust.
We need more members of the community to be willing to take a stand and be more than just the bare minimum. This is not only for teenagers who are experiencing change, but anyone who needs help.
People are quick to say that what today’s youth are going through is so difficult, but few will step up to take a load off their shoulders or just be a person to listen and make sure that they know that they are heard and that they are not alone in this world.
It’s easy to say that change needs to be made, but people need to help make the change.
We need to become a better future and a better support system, just as Jeanine Waldron was for me.
Elizabeth Russell graduated this month from Central Bucks High School West in Doylestown. She heads to Penn State’s main campus this fall.