Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 4 was a day to be Superman

Originally posted: Thursday January 6, 2012

Today was our third day at Allapattah Middle School. Just as the other days, they had us doing manual labor in preparation to beautify the school. This would hopefully make the atmosphere of the school a better learning environment.

We worked on building benches, picnic tables, and shelves. Because of the nice weather, we were outside and it was really great. As we worked, we listened to music. Listening to music and laughing with friends, we really developed a sense of community. It was an enlightening experience because together we realized how much we were helping others while still having a great time. Although we did not finish these projects, we progressed at a good rate.

After lunch, we started to watch the movie, “Waiting For Superman”. It is a documentary about a few kids in different school systems throughout the country. These kids were all struggling with getting a proper education because the schools in their districts were failing. This means that the majority of the students in the school system were not getting a good education therefore failing the standardized tests necessary to pass each grade. The students in this movie were looking for a better place to attend school. Unfortunately, the different charter and prep schools they could attend with either no cost or very low cost only had a small number of spots for incoming students. The way that students to attend in the next year were chosen was through a lottery. Therefore these children were forced to leave their education to chance.

After the movie, we went to Dunbar Elementary School for the last time. We all truly loved the kids we were able to work with. These kids were hardworking and motivated, and they all seemed to enjoy the time we were able to spend with them. On this last day, we played different games with them outside. In the 45 minutes we had with them we were able to play three games: Sharks and Minnows, Baby I Love You, and Red Light Green Light. We all had a great time, however all too soon it was time to leave. As we were saying goodbye, many were asked if we were coming back tomorrow. It was heartbreaking to have to tell them that it was our last day. We all made a connection with the children we were working with and no one wanted to leave. It was truly amazing that we were able to get so close with these fifth graders in just a few hours.

After Dunbar, we took some time to debrief with the City Year people. In a circle we talked about the different things we learned from the experience. Many different questions were asked including: when is it okay to give up on a kid, what ways do you think the school systems can be improved, and what can we do to make the level of learning improve in failing schools. The answers that everyone gave were very interesting, and we realized that there were many things that we could do for kids like these.

Samantha Susson ‘15, University of Delaware

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