Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday is "Whatever it Takes" Day

"Whatever it Takes" – giving 100% everyday to transform Houston

Hello! My name is Katherine and I’m really excited to be the guest blogger today. I met Sam in the fall of 2005 at THE University of Oklahoma through Phi Lamb. We’ve shared classes, meals, tears and fears. I even got to spend Easter with her and her amazing family last year. Speaking of which, Happy Birthday to Lori, Sam’s mom!

Today I’m going to share about doing “whatever it takes” to get low income students ready for college. I am a 2009 Teach For America corps member and I currently teach 7th grade Science and P.E. at a YES Prep school in Southwest Houston. 100% of my students come from minority backgrounds and many of them are English Language Learners. My students face many challenges I never have. By now you can hear the Lifetime original music playing in the background. Yes my students are in a community where teen pregnancy, poverty and gang involvement is high. Yes I am one of those idealistic, young white liberals determined to eradicate educational inequality. My lips are stained with the Koolaid. However, I've realised that doing "whatever it takes" has to be an every day thing - more than just a motivational phrase. It means arriving to work between 6:30 and 7 every day. It means staying past 6 or 6:30 most nights. It means doing work in the evenings at home. It means dodging the stares at Fiesta (international super market)when picking up Takis to bribe my students. (Taki's are like Hot Cheetos but 10 times better.) Doing "whatever it takes" is working through the 5 step lesson plan ensuring that every lesson is aligned. It means spending money on everything from desk trays to marshmallows. It means following grade level iniatives and school mandates. It means having difficult conversations with parents and often showing students "tough love".

Our school has an extended school day (7:30-4:35) and we have approx. 3 additional weeks to our school year. The following is a video about our longer school day. (note: It does mention having school year round. We do not have school year round though we start a few weeks earlier.)
[The teacher wearing the purple scarf is one of my good friends, Meghan. The student who shares, Nardos, is one of my favorite students. She is wise beyond her years and so eager to learn. I can’t wait to see how she improves our world. I mostly posted this video so you could see what my school looks like and meet Nardos.]

The to-do list is never ending. One of my closest friends from work, Heather, wrote an awesome piece on time management you can find here.

The last 7 months have been exhausting. I often feel like finals week is on repeat. Even with all the hours I've put in, I still have mountains to learn. Yet, I still push on. I have faith that experience, perseverance, and God's grace will shape me into the teacher my kids need.

On our country's report card many things are checked with 'Need's Improvement', Social Security, Health Care, Foreign Policy, etc. I am certain that the solutions to these failing entities lie within our Nation's youth. This is why I push on to give "whatever it takes" everyday.

Happy Wednesday!

1 comment:

Ashley said...

wow Kathryn i give you major props! I had looked into doing something like that but then i married an air froce man and right now our lives are constantly on the move! I think it is so neat the sacrafices you are making for these kids!

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Hi y'all! The name's Samantha. You can call me Sam if you like. I am a lover to a boy I met at Falls Creek in the summer of 2005, that is a student of Jesus, a Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die I'll be Sooner dead, Democrat by party, blonde to the core, and oldies but goodies kind of girl.
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