Wednesday, December 14, 2011

i'm still here

I hope you haven’t given up on my blog! I almost did. This past month has been nothing short of insane and when I have free time I just am not in the mood to sit down and type. But I will be seeing many of you soon and I should probably update you a little bit.
But I have a meeting in about 2 min so this may be pretty short.
Not long ago I realized how much I really do care about the students I work with, it started with my 6th period math class.  A female student who gets distracted pretty easily, but does what I ask her to unless she’s having a really bad day. This particular day she was sitting very quietly and looked close to tears so I asked her what was wrong and she just shook her head, because if she tried to talk I think she wouldn’t have been able to hold the tears back. Then I saw folded on the corner of her desk her progress report.
“Is it your grades?” I asked, at that point she pulled her sweater above her face and began to cry. It took all my effort not to cry also. I started recalling all of the times I was in the same position; frustrated with school, my grades, afraid to show my parents and thinking that there would never be a way to understand the material (especially math). I started telling my student about this and reminded her about our after school homework help. She still couldn’t talk but shook her head yes and now our relationship is better than ever.
But that wasn’t the moment I realized how much I loved my kids. That same evening we hosted what is called a “Family Engagement Night” where we invite the whole school and there families to come and participate in different games and activities and then we provide them with dinner and give out prizes.
One student who came stayed afterwards to help with clean up. I really like this kid, he gets bullied a lot because he wears nail polish and reads all the time. He is a little odd, but he’s in my drama club and very respectful and we joke around a lot, some times when he has a lot of aggression I let him punch my hands for awhile and that actually seems to help him a lot.  Anyway, I’m digressing.
Turns out the reason he stayed so late was because some students have been threatening to shoot him as he walks home (he lives about 3 blocks from the school)
I cannot comprehend a 14 year old having to stay late after school because gang members are threatening their life.
Also the weekend before another student I work with was shot and missed a week of  school because he was recovering in the hospital. I have so much more to say but there is still a ton of work to be done before I can finally come home. I love and miss all of you, God bless and I’ll see you soon!! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

no pictures

sorry for the lack of pictures, I was unable to go to the museum as planned so I will have to postpone the picture update. This weekend however, I'm looking forward to the tree lighting ceremony and will most definitely bring my camera for that. This week is pretty nuts; we are planning for a "vip lounge"
The "vip lounge" is a lunch we will be providing for students who started out with poor attendance but have improved a great deal. This first "vip"is introducing the incentive, we are providing them with pizza, putting on a skit and playing some games with them. It should be a lot of fun but we are having problems getting food donated for the event, originally we were going to get wings for the students but the restaurant backed out at the last minute. Now we are trying to get pizza before Thursday...yikes. donations are hard to come by.
Here's another crazy story that happened a couple of weeks ago. I didn't witness any of it so it may be exaggerated but here goes-
A student was misbehaving in a classroom to the point that the teacher decided to call the parents. Well apparently the father did not take the news well because in 6th hour the dad came into his sons classroom and started hitting his son (the term I heard was "beating") in front of the teacher and all the students. A few moments later the child's mom came into the room and started hitting the father until the security finally had to come and get involved. I have never heard of such a thing and I think it's safe to say that situation was a first at our high school.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

new experiences keep coming

I don't have any new pictures for you yet but this weekend I am going to the contemporary art museum so be on the look out!
Now before I tell you this story, you should all know that so far I am having a terrific week and I am safe here at this school!
 Monday in my first hour class things were going a little less than ideal but Mr. E and I were managing. After about an hour I heard some yelling and desks being moved in the classroom next to me. My friend/coworker is in that class and through the brick wall dividing our classrooms things sounded pretty serious. So I ran out of my room to see what was happening. All the doors are locked so I could only see in the window. There was one security guard in the room already who had a student in a headlock. I shouted for more security and two came running, unlocked the door and grabbed another student. Apparently there had been a fight between a guy and a girl. The situation seemed handled so I went back to my class. Unfortunately, because my class could hear what was happening they became riled up and wouldn't calm down. It was a bit of a mess. Then a junior girl who had obviously snuck out of her class was looking into our classroom and throwing gang signs at my students.  So I opened the door and asked her to get back to her class and said "don't ever throw gang signs at my kids again, you know we (the school) has zero tolerance for that"
Well she freaked out and started cussing me out saying "F***you, you don't know me and I don't give a f*** who you are! So you better watch your back cuz i finna f*** you up next time I see you" she continued to cuss at me, the  security guards were occupied so I just smiled at her and said "I just want you to leave my students alone, so you need to walk away" I was ready to go get a faculty member to bring her down to the office because use of gang signs is an automatic suspension; but then my coworker who was in the classroom that had the fight came out of her room and I thought she might need someone to talk to. So the student who threatened me walked away and there was no more trouble from her.
It's crazy to me that a 16 year old girl would threaten an adult (or anyone) like that. I don't know if I handled the situation as well as I could have, but my skin is sure getting thicker.
I have to keep in mind that I don't know what is going on at home (if they have a home) with these kids and when they react so quickly with hatred its a defense mechanism, and it actually does work pretty well.  Who wants to talk to a student or try to get a student to do their work if they are just going to yell at you and become violent? Not me!
...but I've got to get past that, some students have lowered their wall a little for me and let me sit, talk  and work with them and it doesn't take long for them to become somewhat attached to me. The first step is to break down that wall!
God Bless and love you all!

Monday, November 7, 2011

 So what am I doing inside a colon? My friend Justin and I (he's also a coworker) went to a nature museum in Lincoln Park. This portion of the the museum was called "Ewww...what's eating your body" and there were plenty on nasty pictures of worms, lice and close ups of other things that I am trying to get not think about.
 A more enjoyable part of the museum was playing with a bunch of reptiles, Like Snoopy the Snake, seen above. For some reason the owner looks concerned about how I'm handling her pet. But honestly, she talked to me for about 45min about all of her animals and how she wants more. I just wanted to move on to the other animals! Snoopy is a Ball boa constrictor, instead of coiling like most snakes to keep warm he wraps up in a little ball...cute huh?
Also in the building there was a butterfly room with thousands of different butterflies, I tried to take some pictures but  I would need a more high powered camera. Just trust me when I say it was pretty cool.
 Here is the founder of Chicago! Jean Baptiste; in all of Chicago this is the only statue of Jean, its pretty small and you wouldn't be able to find him if you don't know where to look. I didn't take a picture of her but to the left of him is a statue of Marilyn Monroe. Its a really ridiculous statue so I left her out of it (she stands at 26 ft, a little bit of an overkill if you ask me)
After watching some street performers (a dancer and a magician) I went to the movies with a couple other co-workers and when I got out here was a nice view I saw of the city. Pretty good saturday!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


 Yesterday my team helped out with a college fair (We've actually been helping out all month trying to get college reps to come) and we got a lot of compliments from the the teachers and security guards, I think they are finally seeing how much we do here. One faculty member said "you all don't realize how much you change the climate of the entire school." another said that whenever they think of us they think of the most organized and put together group that works here.
It's a good thing someone is noticing that we are making a difference, because I must admit, many days I can't tell if I'm getting anywhere with these kids. They are so resistant to everything, in the classroom I can be their worst enemy, but in the halls I'm their best friend; wanting to give me high-fives, fist bumps, and even hugs.
Today there was no school because it was "report card pickup day", which to me was kind of silly to take an entire day off to give parents report cards. Especially because hardly anyone came. I know some parents have to work and other students don't have parents but only about 70 out of 900+ came. My parents came to every parent teacher conference, they looked at my grade cards, they had talks with me about how I could improve myself. They did everything.
Thanks mom and dad, I love you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween!

Here's the situation; my job makes me fat. After about a month, the pants that are a part of my uniform started getting tight around the waist. So I  figured I could either keep spending more money on pants every other month or get a real cheap gym membership at the YMCA (my job allows me to pay only $16 a month). So now my evenings are all booked, so trying to keep up with this blog has become more difficult (I'm also having a hard time finding time to type it up at work) but I will continue to do my best!
 As I've already mentioned I was taken out of my senior class and moved to another freshman class. The new freshman class is a special education class. All the students have a variety of learning disabilities, but none that you would notice until after you sit down and try to teach them something. This has brought a whole new challenge; I am not qualified to teach special ed. students, so I am going to have to come up with effective ways to tutor this class. The students definitely can't be taught the same and it takes a lot of patience.
Audra H! I don't know if you read this but if so I'd love to talk to you about it sometime, I don't think that the learning disabilities are the same as the students you work with but I'm sure you have a better insight on how to work with students who don't learn the same way.
Well that's about all I have, Happy Halloween everyone, have fun and stay safe. love ya

Saturday, October 22, 2011

a little more lingo

-if a student refers to  a "two piece" chances are they aren’t talking about a bathing suit but an order of chicken
-if someone was embarrassing me in front of a group of people, I would have been "treated"
-a students said "a lot of people are sleepin on pittbull*" and that meant a lot of people don't know who pittbull is.

So when I first started working here my hair was really short (as most of you may remember I shaved my head over the summer) but now my hair is coming back in.  The other day students were telling me how fresh I was looking with my hair and there was mention of me using "product". 
In sixth hour a girl asked " Hey Mr.V! What product do you put in your hair to make it look like that?" "Nothing" I said "I just wash it".  She looked at me funny, like she didn't believe me. "You don't do anything to make it straight or fluff like that?" "No" I answered, "This is just white person hair".  Apparently that was very a funny response and we all laughed, and after the laughter died down she asked if she could touch it.  To avoid starting an uproar  of students touching my hair I said I couldn't allow it, but I have a feeling a few are going to sneak a touch, these kids crack me up!

*pittbull is a rapper 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the teacher has landed!

To make a wonderful day even better, a teacher has been hired! Mr. E the same teacher who was the sub earlier in the year is back, we just aren't sure what day he can officially start. Probably thursday. Thank you all for your prayers, the have been answered!

best class ever.

So I was told something different yesterday about my being in classes. The school has until Wed. to find a teacher before my company will pull me from all teacher-less classes. So I went to my first hour math class dreading what was about to  happen, another day of uncontrollable students and me trying to just teach one student one thing.  About 15 min after the bell rang all the students were finally in their seats but they weren't being too loud. No sub. I felt uncomfortable being in there alone with nothing to work with; I was told if I ever felt uncomfortable and there was no other adult in the room I have every right to leave. So I announced to the class "due to liability reasons, I can't stay in here without a teacher".  "YES YOU CAN!" one girl yelled, "YA, DON'T LEAVE!" shouted another student. "okay", I said, but if I stay I need all of you to not talk when I'm talking and to stay in your seats"
The entire class agreed. I was stunned, I stood there a moment not sure what to do. The first time since I've been here I had a whole class sitting, quiet and looking at me (this isn't my class of 30, only 15, but still!) not only that they are all fully aware I'm not a teacher.
I pulled out a math book and started writing problems on the board, immediately students started yelling out what they thought the answer was. "no, we aren't doing that, one person at a time and no yelling" I said. And get this...they listened and obeyed. We went through about 10 problems on the board, many kids just sat quietly while about 3 told me the steps to each problem. Most were listening some were sleeping.
During this time the substitute came in and sat and watched me work, I was ok with that because I was on a roll! and so were the students. After awhile the sub was a bigger distraction than the students, he kept talking about what school was like when he attended. For about 20 min we got off track and had a class discussion about my organization and others. But it was a good talk and I don't expect many students are willing to do an entire hour and forty min. of math with no break.
Then I assigned some extra credit, about 15 math problems, I said as soon as we get a real teacher I'll be sure that whoever does the work will get credit for it. For the next half hour I made my rounds helping students with their work. It was like the way a classroom should be run, I was close to tears of joy by the end of it and thanked the class for being so amazing. Not a bad day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

they're baaaack!

So the students break is over! and I am very relieved, while a lot of work was done these past two weeks, working without crazy kids got a little dull.  There is no teacher for me yet, and for liability reasons I am not allowed in the classroom without a teacher. So this morning I had to leave 30 students to their own devices. scary! I'm hoping that this will encourage speeding up the process of hiring a new teacher. I still have 6th hour algebra (because by that time the sub has arrived) and I still have my senior class (college prep/post graduation prep.)
Talk has been that this winter will be the worst chicago has had in a long time, but talk has also been that people say that every year. Bottom line-it will get cold. I just need to mentally prepare myself, soon I will be arriving to work before the sun is up and leaving after the sun goes down and because there are no windows in our work room I will be living the life of a vampire.
Oh! almost forgot my team and I went to our students varsity football game on saturday and we kicked some tail! Final score was 64-21, a couple fights broke out (on the field only) ...but we won! and we had a great time, the parents got to see us rooting for their kids and that was pretty neat.  After that my teammate Kira had an engagement party for her roommate (who works at another school) It was pretty fancy, there was all sorts of cheeses and complicated appetizer type food, it was a really good time! I should really get to work now. Love to all!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

nothing to report!

Another week without students! There is still plenty to do just not much to write about, so I'm trying to keep things fresh with new comics :)
The weather has been amazing, I love fall; my neighbors seem to be really good about keeping things festive with tons of decorations pumpkins, gourds, scarecrows and whatnot. My street is lined with trees so every morning I have the joy of crunching them on my way to the bus stop.  There are also many children in my neighborhood so the sidewalks are covered with drawings of traditional halloween ghosts, pumpkins and whatever images their active minds conjure up. If only there was a pumpkin patch or apple orchard nearby my fall experience would be complete!
Alan, you commented that some people have asked you where I am staying. I am in Roscoe Village, which is very near Wrigleyville (home of the Cub's Wrigley stadium)
It's an extremely safe part of town and is very far from the high school. I have about an hour 10 min commute to work. (I won't mention the name of the school on my blog but I'll let anyone who's interested know)
Since I don't have a lot to write about this week please feel free to leave questions in the comment section and I will do my best to answer them!
Love ya!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I've been craving pizza a lot lately, don't know why. Even after eating pizza, the next day I want more. Maybe it's because I'm in Chicago and the standard for pizza seems to be pretty high. So last week I went to Mariano's (a grocery store about 3/4 a mile from my house). This place is amazing, the produce is fresh, the workers are wonderful, they have an amazing bakery and there is even a piano player who plays so you can listen to his jazzy/classical music instead of what most stores play on the radio. Anyway, their bakery makes everything...including pizza! On Thursdays they have a deal of one family sized pizza and a 2 liter pepsi for $10. So of course I went to get myself some homemade style pizza. I put in the order, the baker was about to start when she told me that it was wed. and the deal was on Thursday's only. So I canceled my order and went about my shopping. I told my roommate Zach about the pizza deal last night and we decided to go and try again. I put in the order and was once again told that it was wed. not thu. Two weeks in a row I made the exact same mistake! I must be tired :)
Now I'm going to be thinking about pizza all day, maybe I've made you crave it too, if so come visit me! I'll treat you to some real Chicago style deep dish at a place called Lou Malnati's. Hands down best deep dish ever, the restaurant got it's start in the 1940's, so it's pretty legit!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Our school isn't going to have an students in it for two weeks! (its a year long school so they have long breaks throughout the year). So I'm afraid I won't have as many things to talk about. My team and I will spend most of our time just reorganizing and preparing for when the students come back. Today we had the alderman of our district come and talk to us and we discussed things that he wanted to do in the community to help beautify it and how we can help. I'm not sure if Missouri has any aldermen because I've never heard of that job before. Maybe that just shows my ignorance about such things but I'm learning :)
I'll try to come up with interesting things without my kids but I miss them!
love you all!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

birthday post

greetings all! I received an email from my wonderful Ginther grandparents and they mentioned that my posts were discouraging. I'm sorry to hear that! For that is not at all my intent, yes many sad things are happening at the high school; especially the recent death of a student I don't believe I had the pleasure in meeting.
So for some good news, things are looking up at work! Rumor has it that the board may be coming closer to hiring a teacher for my classes, lets hope that's true! And I have made some wonderful connections with quite a few students, they seem to be realizing that I'm not doing this job for the money :) and that I am truly there for them and have their best interest at heart.
I'm learning a lot of new lingo such as-
tweekin' and/or trippin' (there is a slight difference between the two)- to be out of sorts or "loosing it"
drapin' - a girl who has very long hair is "drapin'"
sweatin'- to have someone pressuring you to get something done is to have them be "sweatin" you

There are definitely more but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.
Some students have been helping me keep the classes down to a dull roar; their tactics aren't the best but mostly affective. One girl in particular loves to yell at the class if they don't listen to me. I was walking the class down to the gym for an assembly and a student decided to slide down the railing and a security guard caught him and pulled him off. I said "what're you doin makin me look bad?" and this girl pushes the kid (lightly with one hand) and said "why would you do that to Mr. V? he's tryin his best and you go off and act a fool, makin it look like he can't do his job! what's wrong with you?" and the boy turned to me, embarrassed and apologized. I of course accepted and had to bite my tongue to avoid laughing!
I've never loved a job more than this one, but I think I might age a few years before it's over!
In Gods love!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rest In Peace

A junior from our high school was hit and killed by a train last night. Please keep her family and friends in your prayers.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

see, I put my major to work!

Sorry it's been a while, I've been crazy busy. Monday after school I had a meeting for the Extended Learning Coordinator (thats my job, aside from working in the classrooms I also plan after school homework help and clubs that the student body wants to start) So I didn't get home until about 8:45 and was able to clock in a 12 hour day. Tuesday was similar, I had a meeting for Corps Council, a job I signed up to do, my job is to take the "pulse" of the team and make sure that the moral remains a good one. Once again I had a 12 hour work day, up at 5:30 home at 8:45. Finally yesterday we had a team meeting that went late and I was home around 7:30 (11 hour work day) so I'm a tad sleepy.
Update on a teacher for 3 of my classes -no one has been hired and we have a different sub everyday and they come late, like 40min to an hour late and they just sit behind the desk and won't help me. So today I decided to get to the bottom of the matter. I feel like I'm being taken advantage of,  yesterday 12 more students were moved to my class, making it 30 students vs me. If I wasn't there where would those students go? I can't do my job affectively, or at all without a teacher.
How did I get to the bottom of it? By just asking around, I had a meeting with a lady who is in charge of a program called "culture of calm". She told me why a permanent teacher hasn't been hired-
"this is off the record: They are looking for a teacher that has less teaching experience than any other teacher here at our school, because if we have to fire teachers again, its a requirement that we fire the teachers with the least amount of teaching experience. So if we hire a teacher that has 20 years experience but has no knowledge of how to deal with our students or work with our staff and we go through another firing of teachers we would have to  fire a teacher who has been with us for 10 years instead of the new (to our high school) teacher."
In other words there is no end in sight, as far as the issue with late substitute teachers; apparently that is also out of the schools control. However, if I have another substitute that comes in and just reads a library book, then I can report it and that sub won't be hired again.
What the school is doing for me is ordering me a packet that I think is normally for subs. It gives me a curriculum to work with and has a script of what to say to the class and how to do the different math problems.  The only thing is, the wrong problem is being fixed. The students already know I'm not a teacher, I don't have a teaching degree and I've never been trained for any of this.
As far a I know this is a situation that has never happened before with our company. Scary? yes, but also exciting. If I could make one prayer request it would be that these students have a real teacher soon, one that is qualified and won't let the students fail.  As much as I may feel that I'm in a tough situation, its nothing compared to what's happening to these students, every day they get more and more left behind.
On a brighter note, I'm starting a drama club! and I have permission to put on a play at the end of the year! I already have 30 students signed up and they are excited; I'm just not sure they are as excited as I am. I AM THRILLED!
God Bless and love to you all!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We can work it out

Still no permanent teacher in my algebra class, so yesterday I came prepared with a lesson plan, first I passed out a worksheet with simple times tables (just to get an idea of where they are) and gave them 90 sec. to do as many as possible and said they would all get 10 pts. if there was no talking, calculators or phones out (All of those things are a constant problem) but they listened to me!!!! They did their work and one girl even completed all 60 problems. I also gave the incentive that whoever did the best would get their favorite snack the next time they came to my class, so I’ve got to remember to get my brainiest student twix!
This morning was not quite as successful, at one point students were running across the desk tops, students were stealing from other students and the language was rated R. by the end of class I got them to quiet down enough I could address their appalling behavior. I told I was there to help them graduate, and that I know how frustrating it is for them not to have a real teacher. I think they actually took some of what I said to heart.
The question was raised, “has the principal gotten involved?” The principal and the school are aware of the situation and they are working hard to solve a million problems at this school (the principal graduated from here and is one of the greatest guys I’ve met).
Some board downtown who is in charge of CPS (Chicago public schools) made the choice to let go of all the substitutes. I think they assumed that we would be able to get a permanent teacher right away, but that’s not happening.
And I wish I could take over the class at some points! But that would take away the point of my job, which is to focus on specific students who are struggling academically. (Lunch periods I spend time with students who are struggling with behavior and I have another group of students who struggle with coming to school on time or at all)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

but it'll be fine...

came to my first hour class (freshman algebra)this morning and my teacher was late, I thought that was odd because he's normally on top of everything. He came in about 5 min. later and said he was no longer the sub, our high school had hired him on a day to day basis and after working with the students for over a month he now has to find other work. The students were just beginning to show signs that they would behave and be willing to somewhat participate in class.
So when they found out that he was gone I was left alone in the class for about 10 more min and I was able to calm them down for the most part. I wasn't about to try teaching a lesson because that could mess them up forever! Then a new teacher came in...also a substitute, he doesn't even know if he'll be here tomorrow, it might be another sub. There was no lesson plan for him to go off of so he just started teaching the FOIL method; a new concept to the students. They weren't having it, complete chaos for an hour and forty min. I tried to reason with some of the students who. over the past few days, started being respectful and doing their work. They are just as frustrated as I am. How are they supposed to learn anything if there is no structure? They have given up. They have decided that doing any work is hopeless because there is no teacher to grade their papers or keep a consistent curriculum.
If you could just sit in this class for a day you might understand how bleak the situation is.  Take any movie you've seen about a teacher coming into an urban school and trying to make a difference. This class is more out of sorts. more later, lots to do. God Bless! love you all!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

a little college talk...

So I don't know if I mentioned this yet but my US history class is a Senior class, so if things didn't seem a little intimidating before... they still don't. The Senior class is a bit more well behaved than the freshman algebra class (especially first hour freshman...whew). I think I am going to like the history class. Friday a handout was given asking questions like "what would the  benefits be to going to a traditionally black college?" and "what would the disadvantages be to going to a traditionally black college?"
The desks are set up in little pods and I joined the most rambunctious one to try and keep the students on task, not an easy job. Being the only white person in the room (other than the teacher, most teachers are black, but the two I work with are white males) and given the fact that the students had no intention of doing their work I decided to give them a white persons perspective on the matter. In the discussion I earned at least a little respect, one student commented on how he was surprised with how real I was being with him and said he said he respected that.
I let them know that I came from a predominately white community and I have very little experience with other cultures and that being in an environment like theirs could be very intimidating, but that I'm adjusting quickly and think that learning about other cultures will strengthen me as a person. I encouraged them to do the same; even though they are not used to working with or even seeing people of other races its important for them to get used to the idea if they ever want to leave their community. (their town is a very poor one, about 99% black, almost all below the poverty line)
Chicago is the second most segregated place in the entire United States. This is no accident, from a very early time the government was very strategic about separating whites from all other ethnicities. Most of the money Chicago takes from taxes goes to the "nice" part of Chicago, the place where everyone visits, while other areas are left forgotten. Of course all of the US used to be like this when black people couldn't attend the same schools or live in the same neighborhoods as white people. But Chicago has continued this tradition by how they spend tax dollars. Upper and middle class Chicago all live in the center and as you reach the outskirts (before the suburbs) is where you'll find everyone else. Of course I don't know how all the politics work, but like I said it is not by chance. So in order for the students I'm working with to break this pattern they need to know how to get out of their comfort zone and explore other areas. Of the students I talked to they all get nervous and/or uncomfortable when in a group of white people.
In other news I am currently working on a video for an attendance rally that we are hosting at the high school, it's taken me a while because I'm teaching myself how to use imovie but it's a pretty simple system. I'm using imovie '08 and from what I've seen imovie '11 is light years ahead, but I'm still having a good time with it and it will certainly work for what I'm trying to do. Again, any questions, please feel free to leave a comment! love you all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


So yesterday we all left school early to listen to the CEO of our company, pretty inspiring stuff.  He is almost 50 and started the company when he was attending Yale. It was nice to see that even though he now has meetings at the white house and has started city year in other countries he is still down to earth and hasn't forgotten why he started the program in the first place, to lower the dropout rate of students.
My schedule has changed a bit, now I have algebra every morning at 1st hour and on B days (there are A and B days here, the schedule is a bit like college...but not really) I also have US history 4th and 5th hour and algebra again 6th hour.
It looks like I'm going to have algebra homework every night because I need a refresher on what I did way back in 2002, the good news is it seems a lot simpler than when I was a freshman in high school, but I still wouldn't say it comes easy to me by any means. (and I'm sure you all thought, like I did, that I would spend  my post school years running away from math) at least this way my brain won't shrivel to nothing! And I think the students like seeing me work hard to help them find the answers, because I don't know them either so we can work together on them. That's not to say the students all love me. I'll share stories soon enough, but now it's time for my second first high school US history class! God Bless and love to you all!

Monday, September 12, 2011

so it aint tuesday but...

Hello again, I'm at my school right now so I don't really have much time to blog but I feel like I'm always going to be behind on this thing until I get my own computer. Here is a quick summary of last week.
We went to the high school Tue. morning only to find out that we would not be allowed in the classes because about 10 teachers were being let go that day, here's why-
At the beginning of the year in CPS (Chicago public schools) the amount of teachers hired is based off of the number of students the previous year. If after 20 days there are too many teachers than they will fire the teachers with the least amount of experience. Here's the problem (other than firing a number of teachers); there have been a number of Charter schools built in the area so a lot of students are attending those schools instead. A charter school will accept any student, but they are also quick to kick a student out. A student can get kicked out for bad grades, low attendance, bad behavior etc. So within a few months more and more students will be joining our high school (my class has already gained 3 new students).
And the class I will be helping with, my personal favorite...algebra! I'm only in the class for the first hour and then I spend the rest of my school day preparing for my other job which I will get into later. Feel free to ask me questions, I forget what you all know and what you don't know. Love you all!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

blog to start on tuesday

Ok! so the good news is I now have Internet at my place, the bad news is my phone is broken (nothing comes up on the screen anymore, I cannot make or receive text, and I can't make not to worry, my job will be providing me with a phone, I just don't know when.
I have run into too many obstacles to count since I've joined this company, but there is no point in listing all of them because that may bore you and frustrate me seeing them all written down in one place. 
Training is over! no more will I be watching power point after power point! I start the real work on Tuesday; my team has visited the school a couple of times already, one of the days we split up in pairs and sat in on some classes. It was enlightening to say the least. I will go more into detail when the real fun begins. Since I've been away from the blog forever I don't know what to write about, I have plenty of ideas everyday but now that I'm weeks behind trying to catch up seems pretty daunting...I'll start fresh Tuesday. I hope everyone enjoys labour day, I'm going to a Jazz Festival!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

welcome family

Hey all! So I've been in Chicago for a couple of weeks, living in a one bedroom apartment that belongs to a guy named Spencer who I've never met. I am staying here with his friend Dan, a guy my age who is from Jackson, Michigan. Two other guys who don't know Spencer are staying here as well, Zach, a 20 year old from...I forget and Ron from Los Angeles CA. The good news is we are leaving for a 3 bedroom apt. in Roscoe Village in a few hours.
What am I doing in Chicago? Losing sleep for one thing, but having a great time! For the first time in a long time I feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be (well not Spencer's apt. but you know).  Orientation for the company I'll be working for,  started Aug. 1st; I get up at 6 am to watch power point presentation after power point presentation until about 5:45 and I get back home around 6:45/7 so finding the time to find an apt has been difficult to say the least! but it happened.
Orientation lasts until September 4th, on the 5th is when we go to our assigned schools. I guess some of you aren't sure of what it is I will be doing. I will work as a mentor/tutor to 7 students who are on the brink of failing. I just found out I will be working with 9th graders, the school is the worst academically that City Year works with. The statistics of how far behind the students are is appalling.
2.6% of the students meets or exceeds expectations in Reading
0.9% meets or exceeds expectations in math
0% meets or exceeds expectations in Science
Obviously this school is on probation, what that means is that if in a certain amount of time there is not improvement the entire school staff will be fired, including Principal's, teachers, lunchladys, janitors everyone. They will be able to apply for their job again. but most of the new teachers hired will be what they call AUSL teachers who have been trained specifically to work at such schools. After AUSL takes over the school is then called a "turn-around" school. Most of the schools my company works with have already been "turned-around".
I could go on for pages about all of the responsibilities I have but I'll tell you about them as I actually start doing them. This coming week all of us (the future tutors) will be going out to some cabins in some woods somewhere for team building (each school is assigned a team, my High School team consists of 8 not including the team leader who worked for this company in my position last year, I'm thinking of applying to be a team leader next year, but I've got plenty of time to think about it)
Anyway, Chicago is wonderful, I get to travel on the trains and buses for free so that's nice, no car worries here.
My roommates are finally ready to go, more to come, I love you all!