As of the moment that I created this story, 2.49 years, 910 days, 21,840 hours, 1,310,400 minutes, and 78,624,000 seconds have passed since my first day at Citizen Schools.
In those 2.49 years, 910 days, 21,840 hours, 1,310,400 minutes, and 78,624,000 seconds I have seen so much. I have seen an F on report card turn to a B, I've seen shy students come out of their shell and speak to a congressman with confidence, I’ve seen 12 year olds create films, robots, and teach me what a polymer is. I've seen a lot but I’ve learned even more. The most important thing I have learned is that any student, no matter their skill level, no matter their previous grades, no matter their racial, cultural, or socio-economic background, any student can find success.
My last semester in the classroom was in the spring of 2011, I took on a team of 13 students. Six of those thirteen students were endanger of failing the 7the grade, one of those six had already failed the 7th grade once. Of the seven who weren’t endangering of failing there was only one who didn’t have an F on their report card. Four of my students had been suspended at least once in the fall semester, and 2 of them had been suspended multiple times. Needless to say, I had my hands full. I knew what I was getting myself into, I had handpicked most of these students it wasn’t until I saw their report cards that I realized what an uphill battle it was going to be.
Luckily I love a challenge. We worked really hard on respect, belief, and teamwork. My students knew I was working hard for them, staying up late writing lessons that would interest them, taking their phone calls late at night to help with homework, and talking to their regular day teachers about homework and upcoming tests. My students knew that if I was working hard for them, that I expected the same amount of hard work from them. Not doing homework, not studying for tests, showing up late, or skipping would not be tolerated. Each day I saw improvements in my kids, they started to take pride in their work. They would tell me about their families, their friends, their girlfriends/boyfriends (gross). The day test scores came out, or report cards were sent home I saw every single one of them, because they knew that no matter how good or bad it was we would work together to get better.
May came too fast that semester, before I knew it the semester was over and summer break was here. The last day we did an exercise where the students wrote what they thought their legacy was and what they thought the other students legacy was, I also had the kids write what they thought my legacy was. One of my students who started off very disrespectful wrote that my legacy was, “being the first teacher to really care.” Now I rarely get emotional, I couldn’t help but get a little choked up about the comment. It was the first day of school this past fall, I walked on campus in my new role as the Operations Coordinator to meet with a reporter who was writing an article on Citizen Schools, the eighth graders (my former 7thgraders) were walking out of the cafeteria. Every single one of my students walked out of that cafeteria and gave me a hug, Every single one of them passed the 7th grade. They began to act like toddlers as they saw me, hugging me, using me as a jungle gym, and telling me about the grades they received on their report card last spring. Every student can succeed. No exceptions.
This is my story, but every day Citizen Schools impacts students, families, and communities across the country. Please consider supporting the work we are doing by donating to our campaign. Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and thank for your previous and future donations.