The Teacher and the Student

There’s a learning process to serving, and elementary education major Abigail Goecker ’17 says connecting with youngsters is a two-way street.

Teacher's assistant and Bonner intern Abigail Goecker ’17 has learned that service is a mutually beneficial act. (Photo by Scott Cook) Teacher's assistant and Bonner intern Abigail Goecker ’17 has learned that service is a mutually beneficial act. (Photo by Scott Cook)

Abigail Goecker ’17 learned the value of service long ago. Her grandmother was the Bonner Scholars program director at Davidson College, so Goecker grew up with an almost inherent understanding of what it means to serve. But when Goecker started working with underserved children at an Orlando elementary school, she realized the determined youngsters had much to teach her as well.

A Service-Inspired Switch
“When I was a teacher’s assistant at Grand Avenue Primary Learning Center, it was absolutely incredible to see the perseverance of the school’s young students. No child that I worked with ever considered giving up, even when faced with extreme circumstances. Surrounded by such a passionate, loving group of educators, I decided to change my major from English and secondary education to elementary education. I plan to teach in an elementary school and then gradually specialize in literacy and reading. I also want to earn my doctorate and become a college professor of education.”

A Two-Way Street
“There’s a learning process to serving. In our department, we say that service is messy and unpredictable. Despite how it may sometimes be portrayed, service is not a righteous act. Bonner gives you a chance to make mistakes and learn how to serve. It helps you see service as a mutually beneficial act. I learned so much at Grand Avenue. I believe the children have taught me far more than I could possibly teach them about love, life, and how to give your all.”

Learning to Serve
“I started with the first cohort of Bonner Leaders at Rollins and now I’m one of the Bonner Leader interns. As an intern, I help supervise, advise, and mentor others in the program in addition to working with our community partners. I really try to help new Bonner students feel that their cohort is also their family. I met some of my best friends through the Bonner program, and have been fortunate enough to feel a sense of belonging as I’ve worked through many new experiences.”

Breakthrough Benefits
“Those so-called ‘light bulb’ moments when something clicks and a student finally understands—those are the most exciting things. You feel like the communication between the student and the teacher is in sync and that there is a trust being built. That opens so many doors for the student and the teacher.”

Meet More Bonner Leaders

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

The Global Do-Gooder

From Orlando to Nepal and Washington, D.C., to Zimbabwe, Avani Mooljee ’16’s service knows no borders.
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(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

The Artist

Meredith Ewen ’19 makes the artistic experience more inclusive for students with special needs—starting with imagination and some squishy paint.
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(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

The Entertainer

From hosting bingo to teaching improv, Malakai Green ’17 is using his stage presence to brighten the lives of older adults.
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