2016-11-21

By Kalin McKean, AmeriCorps member serving on the Rockwell Automation team at Rogers Street Academy 

Serving in a K-8 school has helped me remember how it feels to be thirteen again, learning about linear equations and preparing for new changes that will occur in high school, while also helping me remember how it felt to roam through the hallways as a fifth grader, or play on the blacktop as a third grader. A day at Rogers Street Academy is filled with working with brilliant scholars, lots of laughter, and even more joy. Here is a snapshot of a day in my life at Rogers Street Academy.  

5:30 Alarm number one rings through my apartment. As I hit snooze, I reflect on my to-do-list for the day, and prepare to be fully present for another day at Rogers Street Academy.  

5:45 Wake up with a warm cup of tea, eat breakfast, brush teeth, press khakis, get dressed.  

6:30 With my red bomber jacket on, I grab my backpack, close the door, and I head to pick up another teammate. 

7:00 It’s time for our team’s first circle. Smiling through sleepy yawns, we bring each other’s energy levels up by sharing our joys, ripples, and appreciations with each other, all while reminding ourselves that we live to serve another day (and that’s a beautiful thing). 

7:25 It is time to greet the students of Rogers Street Academy. Today we power greet with the younger students. The fifth graders request their favorite City Year chants, and in their loudest voices, they sing and dance along with us. A morning filled with laughter, smiles, and good morning greetings is my favorite way to begin each day.  

7:45 As the students eat breakfast, I walk up to the third floor to my 8th grade classroom, passing motivational quotes on the walls in English and in Spanish along the way. I say "hi" to as many students as possible before walking my first set of students down to the City Year room to work on ELA strategies.  

8:00 Three of my students and I start by practicing reading and writing skills together. I love watching the confidence levels of my students rise as they share the narratives they wrote with the rest of the group.  

8:30 It's time to make phone calls to parents to help encourage absent students to come to school the next day, and wish them well if they are sick. One of the greatest parts of Rogers Street Academy is the outstanding parent engagement. By making frequent phone calls home, we remind students that their presence in the classroom is important.  

9:00 Time for math class. As I walk around the classroom, I take notes with my students and relearn how to find the slope of a graph.  I take extra detailed notes for Rachel* who struggles with Math anxiety, and I remind her I used to be in her same shoes. We work though the problems together, and she can't hide her smile when she successfully solves the problem. 

10:00 After a short transition we begin the second class of the day: reading. Scholars get the opportunity to work in small groups, and I have the opportunity to watch them learn from each other.  

11:00 At this time, the entire class participates in various activities including interventions, internet based math curriculum, or reading groups. I take my Math group into the hallway to review the process of solving algebraic equations through fun math games, and instruction.  

12:00 It’s lunchtime. As I eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I cannot help but laugh at the numerous jokes my teammates make. Over the past few months we have grown as a team, and lunch is when we get to share our days with each other.  

1:30 It’s time for the last class of the day: ELA. Today, I help students draft their memoirs. As I hear more about their life events, I continue to build strong bonds with the students I serve.  

2:35-5:00 Our afterschool program, Success Academy, begins. We start the program with homework help before we transition to enrichment activities such as science club or creativity club. On any given day, we can depend on our 5th grade students to make us smile with their clever jokes, and bursts of energy, and the middle school students keep us on our toes as well.  

5:00 Success Academy ends and the team gathers for final circle. As we reflect on our day, we prepare to serve another day, eager to do it all again. 

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