Written by Hannah Laub, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Irene W. and C. B. Pennington Foundation Team at Kenilworth Science and Technology School
5:30 AM: My alarm goes off and it’s way too early. Like, waaaaaay too early. Like, if I were in still in college, this would be waking up in the middle of the night. But it’s not the middle of the night, I’m not in college anymore, and I better get out of bed before I have a quarter-life-crisis.
6:30 AM: I leave my apartment. It’s dark outside.
6:45 AM: I walk into the City Year room, just in time for Morning Circle. I’m greeted by the familiar whirl of khaki-and-red as my team prepares for our morning ritual. We begin our time together by acknowledging the blessing it is that we are able to serve another day. Every day, I attempt to really appreciate the miracle it is to be alive, to be able to serve. Some days this is harder than others.
7:08 AM: I go into the hallway for the morning meeting with the 8th grade teachers. We prepare for the day with announcements, some healthy sarcasm, and sometimes a baked treat courtesy of one of the teachers.
7:15 AM: Students arrive, and many eat breakfast at the school. City Year hosts a program called “Breakfast Club,” where students can bring their food and get help on their homework. I sit waiting for students to come with their work, enthusiastically helping out with English homework and tentatively attempting to teach how to divide fractions… if absolutely necessary.
7:40 AM: The first 20 minutes of every day is DEAR, which stands for “Drop Everything And Read.” During this time, I head to an 8th grade science class, and my time there is a blur of desperately “SHHHing” the entire class, identifying students who have learned to sleep with their eyes open, and smiling when they finally settle down to read.
8:02 AM: My first class starts. Three hundred students ask me to sharpen their pencils. Five hundred try to start a conversation with me about anything but schoolwork, as I tell them to begin their Do-Now. Most of the time, they listen.
9:30 AM: I’ve been in class for about an hour and a half, and a student asks me to go to the bathroom, even though she just went ten minutes ago. I tell the student no and she tells me I’m mean and that she’s never talking to me again.
9:40 AM: I spy a hand waving from across the classroom, and said student is beckoning me over to read her work on the current assignment. I go to her, read it, and we are friends again.
11:00 AM: I take a small group of students out of class to teach them the lesson with more attention and fewer distractions. As I’m calling students out to come with me, several raise their hands and ask, “Miss Hannah, can I come with you?! PLEASE?!”
11:20 AM: A student who was struggling in the larger classroom finally understands the material in our small group. Although he usually acts “too cool for school,” he finally seems genuinely excited to do the work. I take a minute to celebrate the accomplishment with him, and then it’s back to work.
1:15 PM: Lunchtime! Students go to the cafeteria to eat, but a few come to the City Year Room to eat with us. We spend our lunch talking about anything and everything and nothing.
2:00 PM: I’m in the final class of the day. This class, coming directly after lunch, always has the biggest behavior problems. I obviously don’t have favorite students… But if I did, they would be in this class. Sometimes the students that give me the biggest headaches also give me the biggest smiles.
2:05 PM: One of my students asks to go talk to me in the hallway because the teacher “isn’t being fair.” We go and she begins to talk. She doesn’t stop for ten minutes. In the end, it becomes obvious that the real problem had very little to do with the teacher. We hug it out, and go back to class.
3:00 PM: The students are finally on the busses. I head back to the City Year Room for some announcements, paperwork, and lesson planning.
5:00 PM: The day isn’t quite over! Kenilworth’s football team is undefeated, and it’s the Homecoming game. The football team, cheerleaders, and dance team all come out and show everyone how hard they’ve been working outside of academics. Seeing my students in uniform, working and succeeding as a team, is enough to make anyone proud.
8:30 PM: Goodnight!