I Am a 5th Grader Too.

Author: Olivia Besel | MTR Class of 2017

Olivia Besel is an MTR resident and expected to graduate with the Class of 2017. She is teaching 5th grade at KIPP Memphis Academy Middle. We are thankful that Olivia is at MTR and we hope that this blog will serve as an encouragement to you! 


Spending two weeks in a school made me realize something… I am basically a 5th grader to the Lord.

I have been working with a student who is behind in school by many grade levels. He can’t read, struggles to speak, and in light of it all, he acts out. He walks out of class, he calls out, and he says things out loud that I will never type on this platform. BUT, he is smart. He is so smart. He can make decisions in the blink of an eye, he can react quickly, and when he applies himself, the options for what he can do are limitless. I have found myself working one on one with him several times now. It was a little bit like pulling teeth to get him to work until I realized that football references could really win him over.

I could go on and on, but something I have learned is that the posture of the Lord to us is similar to what I am called to do for this child.


No matter how I act out, the Lord will forever believe in me and knows what I am capable of. He knows the power of which I was born with, of which I can access, and He knows my worth. And how many times has He gotten on his knees and looked me in the eye and found ways to help me understand. For me it’s not football, though if the Seahawks make it to the Superbowl this year, that will be a huge sign from the Lord. But when I want to stand up and walk out of the “room” that is the presence of the Lord, or when I call out, does He leave? Does He yell back? Does He kick me out? NO! Absolutely not. He kneels down and finds those ways in which I can grasp HIS love. He gives me little tips and tools, cheat sheets, He gives me tangible evidence of His grace and mercy when I just do not understand.

This little boy is powerful. He was born with worth and has the ability to be a leader, a learner and a source of knowledge for all his peers. I am excited to see how he is molded as he grows into believing these things about himself.

I think I have to remember that in many ways I too am a 5th grader in order to love my 5th graders.

He longs to find our “football” references and remind us of why we are loved and encourage us to do the things that make us feel loved.

I am a 5th grader too.

This is what MTR teachers are made of. Interested in joining the Residency? Applications for the next MTR cohort open on September 1st. Apply at memphistr.org and contact a recruiter if you have any questions.