At Jackie Robinson’s June 4 class, we used the off-court session for a new learning initiative, the “Hot Seat,” in which students have the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions questions to a volunteer or staff member. This week, Jackie Robinson’s Site Leader, Michele Gee, was “interviewed” by her students in the Hot Seat.
Questions ranged from silly things like, “What hair products do you use”?” to “How do you feel when you play tennis?”. The latter question was proposed by a 10-year-old student, Amr, who so sincerely wanted to know how tennis makes Michele feel—as if he, too, experiences something “special” when playing the game.
Michele’s answer was simple, yet powerful; the game makes her feel strong because it reminds her of the obstacles she’s overcome. “I struggled with athleticism throughout my childhood. I always had to work twice as hard as the next person to develop my hand eye coordination and motor skills. When I think of all the perseverance that it took for me to succeed, I know that it required a ton of strength for me to not give up. Tennis was very much a challenge for me but when I look back at all the obstacles I had to overcome, I feel very accomplished.”
Reflecting on the session, Educational Coordinator Christine Hum says, “Tennis has a unique way of bringing out the best in others and bringing people of different backgrounds together. Who knew we'd have so much to talk about off-court?”
Some of the younger kids who are usually quiet came out of their shells to pepper Michele with questions about her life, Christine proudly recalls. The kids loved the interview format and a chance to relate to the adults on their site. The 30+ students had more questions than time allowed, so Christine encouraged them to continue their conversations with Michele throughout the summer.