NYC Teaching Fellows Response #1

Why do you want to be a teacher? What experiences have led you to want to teach in a high-need school in New York City? If applicable, please include in your response any volunteer or employment experience working with children and/or young adults in high-need communities.

This past year I’ve been working with City Year New York at an East New York elementary school, and I’ve never worked more in my life.  Often I find myself putting in 9, 12, even 15 hour days sometimes working for these kids writing up lesson plans and ideas for our behavior initiatives.  On top of that, I’ve been working after hours and on weekends developing a four day long camp “Camp City Year 2011” that we offer to high need students free of charge during their February Break.  I’ve got kids yelling and screaming at me all hours of the day, teachers and faculty that often are too busy to give a helping hand or to coordinate lessons plans.  The neighborhood I work in couldn’t be less conducive to one’s health, between the dietary choices at the local bodegas, the constant traffic directly outside the school’s front door, not to mention the gang violence that often runs right through our own playground.  And yet despite what sleep I’m not getting, I’m getting up tomorrow morning at 6am to do it all over again, because I can’t help but feel that I LOVE MY JOB.

At my school, like many inner-city schools, most of my students have attitude or behavioral problems that stop them from completing even the simplest of tasks or objectives.  Often I find I spend much of my day calming students down, adjusting their perspective and giving them tools which they can come to rely upon.  I believe my work is that of developing the values and moral infrastructure of our students.  This critical work is often left out in the cold when it comes to the education of our youth, and unfortunately, I find education suffers for it.  A class will not be engaged in the classroom if they have not developed a sense of curiosity.  A student will not try try again after failing a test if they do not understand the meaning of perseverance.  A teacher will not see quality work or good grades if their students do not understand the merits of honesty and hard work.  These are lessons that will aid any student throughout their education and throughout their lives, which is, ideally, the goal.  This has been my role at City Year, helping students adjust their outlook on school, on life, and most especially, themselves through the development of a personal set of values.  I believe it has been the most important work I have done at my school as it provides the foundation for learning and for all human interaction.

I am here in New York because I understand it to be the home of the best and the brightest, yet I also understand that it is home to some of the most educationally disadvantaged and the most troubled youth of our times.  I see myself as a person of talent and understanding and eagerly accept the greatest challenge of the 21st century.



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