Final Goodbye…

Today is not the final goodbye, but tomorrow will be. Well, I don’t like telling people goodbye, so I’ll just say “see you later.”

See you later, Ivan, the intellect!

See you later, Maya, the comedian!

See you later, Rodney, the “hungry man basketball player!”

See you later, Taylor, the fashionista!

See you later, Jasmyne, our song bird!

See you later, Kalyn, the doctor!

I can’t wait til tomorrow for them to showcase their beautiful life maps!

I think they benefited a lot from the program. One young lady even said she is going to sign-up for it next year!

Teaching at Midtown Academy was my favorite part of the trip. Just being able to be a leader and an example for the children is great. Being able to play “expert” on college and be a young vibrant person to them, was also a joy. I made them laugh and I was able to relate the students and their urban living lifestyle. Honestly, I have been a little uncomfortable here but have been maintaining my positive and being strong. Teaching the students has made everyday special! I have never been on a class trip, and I thank you for the opportunity. I bonded a lot with my classmates. I thought I was not going to be closer to anyone at all; just the regular hi and bye.

All in all, I enjoyed my trip! It was more than a service-learning experience….it was just a necessary experience for both ME and the children! It did not feel like I was volunteering at all. It did not feel like I was even doing this for a grade. It felt natural. It felt like I belonged. It felt like I was needed, and they were needed as well!

It was great!

See you later, Midtown Academy!

Day 4: Beginning of the End

 

Today we visited a public boarding school in Baltimore.  The school attracts students from low income families from each district of Maryland.  I have to say I was very impressed by the school’s seemingly limitless resources.  The school boasted dorms for their students that rival that of Gettysburg College’s freshman dorms and even provided the students with new apple technology such as Ipads and Mac Pros.  The students seemed very comfortable in their uniforms and seemed to be actively working and participating in the classes we visited.  The school was even working on renovating a huge new facility.  I think that the idea of providing low income students with the chance to escape some of the rough conditions of city life in a dorm environment is a very compelling idea.  However, I found myself questioning whether the millions of dollars being poured into the school from non-profit organizations and donors might be better spent supplementing regular urban public schools as whole.  The school cannot operate the system on a larger scale and so the opportunity to attend will only affect a fraction of a percent of Baltimore’s urban student population.

Boarding School Classroom

Boarding School Classroom

 

Today was also our last lesson with our Midtown Academy students.  I have to say I had a great time working with the students to educate them on the college application process and career possibilities.  It was a great learning experience that I will never forget.  I hope that I made some kind of impact on the students and that they enjoy their visit to Gettysburg College in April.  I hope one day after I have established myself and accomplish my career goals that I will be able to teach for a year or two in an urban setting in New York and maybe even coach a sports team.

-Mike

 

University of Phellix

Day 4: Completed. Another long but productive day for our urban education course. We woke up this morning and headed to a public boarding school, it was rather interesting. It felt like I was on a college campus. The kids come from all over Maryland and stay the whole week at their school. Out of all the schools we have visited, this school seems like they got everything together. The kid that I spoke to was well spoken and driven. I was very inspired and impress. However, it is unfortunate that there are still many other kids who cannot have the some opportunity that these students have.

            Andrea was the group leader today. I think she taught the kids valuable lessons on interviewing, marketing yourself, and the process of applying to colleges. She did a good job relating and comparing both processes. She then had the students create a résumé. After all that was done she made go through a mock interview with me. This was fun. I was kind of hard on the kids, but I had to be. I see so much potential in them but they don’t have the confidence. After each interview I assured each person that they were great, and their only job is to make me believe them. This is why I want to get into teaching, so I can assure each student that can be as great as they want to be. 

Day 4

Today seemed to blow by for me, literally. From the morning I left for our newest charter school visit to the last moments of our final “teaching” session with Midtown, the unbearable amounts of wind played a huge factor in how I felt the whole day. Because of this, it was hard for me to pay attention during the outdoors parts charter school tour. Regardless, I was able to find some peace whilst indoors. While inside, I found that the students at this particular school were not only very engaged and excited to learn, but also extremely intelligent as well. I could tell the programs this school implemented were working quite well.

After the charter school visit, I had some time to grab a quick lunch, and then I was off to Midtown for the final day of our pre-designed curriculum. Today was interesting in that the students spent much of the day working on their life maps, which they seemed to enjoy quite a bit. One thing I thought was very impressive was that some of the girls in my group actually began to give constructive criticism to another student based on what they had been taught previously in the week. I found it extremely rewarding to know that some of what we had been preaching this week actually stuck with the students; a testament to how we are actually making an impact on their lives.

After Midtown, the class had a chance to eat as a whole, which, aside from some payment complications, was a nice change of pace. This was the only point throughout the trip where I felt like everyone had a good chance to bond/socialize as a whole, which I thought was fun. The Afghan food we ate was incredible, and relatively cheap as well. Our teacher did a great job of picking the food tonight!

jueves

Our day started out with a bus ride to a boarding school for low income middle- and high-school students. Upon entering, I was highly impressed with the facilities. The dorm rooms looked much nicer than my freshman dorm at Gettysburg. You could tell there was significant outside investment in order for this school to work (considering it was a public school.) One of the first thoughts I had related to the financials behind it. Obviously this model is not financially feasible district-wide. It makes me wonder whether it would be more beneficial to disperse the money evenly among all of the schools within a certain district. The matter is more complex than that but it still poses an important issue.

After our trip at the boarding school, we conducted our final College and Career Institute session with our seventh grade students. They were relatively well behaved for the last day. The highlight of this session was their reception to the mock job interviews. I was pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm and responses to the questions we asked. It is very encouraging and I hope that translates into a passion for a long-term career. Now all we have left is their final presentations. I hope their presentations go well so the week ends on a positive note. We ended the night with our trip to the Afghan restaurant. The food was surprisingly tasty. It is always good to try new things so I am happy we gave it a shot.

Thursday, March 13

Today was our final full day in Baltimore. The first part of our day was spent visiting yet another reform model in the city. Unlike the other schools we visited, this school houses their students during the week and sends them home on the weekend. I was very impressed with the teachers and students we were introduced to. The one student we met was very aware of her situation and how lucky she was to be at the school. I personally do not know if I would be able to attend boarding school at that age. However, one student I spoke to acknowledged that she found this to be beneficial because she would be used to dorm style living and being away from home when she attends college. I respect this reform model because it seem to address the issues present on the first reform model we saw but does not take extreme measures like the reform model we saw yesterday. This school provides a safe environment for their students and allows them the opportunity for success.

Our final day at Midtown Academy was very rewarding. I am pleased by how comfortable the students have become with us and have watched this change occur over the week. Our lesson today focused on interview skills and financial aid. The students all did very well on their interviews and I have complete faith that they will be successful in the future. I am also glad did this exercise because it gave me a clearer image of proper conduct during an interview. Today was a true testament to the saying that you learn best by teaching. The students were also very interested in financial aid and asked very engaging questions. It was great to be able to share my own experiences with them while discussing financial aid and make the lesson more personal. I am excited for tomorrow’s presentation and hope that the guests appreciate the work that went into this week.

Rather than waking up and relaxing in the common area, I woke up and immediately went out the door after my morning shower. Today was probably one of our longest days but it was definitely a great a day. We explored another charter school reform model that also attempted to remove the students from their external environment and place them in a more academic environment. This time we were able to visit the school and see it in action.

This charter school was placed on top of a hill, away from the neighborhoods surrounding it. Walking from the bus stop to the school, it was easy to notice the contrast. It had a large campus and provided it students’ with amazing facilities and staff that could take care of them at anytime. It’s a public school that serves all the counties. We spent a lot of time touring the campus and learning more about the philosophy and structure of the school. It more or less attempted to resemble a college campus. After our tour, I had lunch with a student and I questioned her on the school. I asked her, “Describe the school in three words,” and her response — “Challenging, Friendly, Crazy.” She enjoyed the rigorous curriculum that they were providing her and felt like it will be helpful for her future. She appreciate the staff that the school hired and love their friendly personality. Then again, she does experience some crazy drama with younger students and there were an array of situations that happens throughout the year. Overall, she likes the school but thinks that the school was trying too hard to resemble a college campus and felt like it was an exaggeration. For me, I am still torn that there are thousands of other students who are missing this education.

As for our College and Career Institute, today is our second to last day of it. I’m so sad that it’s going to be ending tomorrow and so proud of the work that we’ve accomplished this week. Today, Rachel had the students do a mock interview, an application essay, and begin compiling their portfolio. As I reflect on the entire week, I am satisfied with the Institute, although there is a few things that I would like to improve, I’m happy. I am going to miss the students and miss Baltimore. It’s been great spending my entire Spring Break here.

What to expect tomorrow: Final reflection! :[