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I grew up in a family of educators. My mom, my grandma, my grandpa, my aunt all taught in some way, whether it was as a 3rd grade teacher or university professor. I remember every day after elementary school hanging out in my mom’s high school classroom, playing with her desk and drawing all over her whiteboard. I guess I never grew out of it, because I’m sitting at my own desk with a whiteboard right next to me as I write this and I couldn’t be happier.

City Year has given me the unique opportunity to play the role of the student and the teacher at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds, really. I sit in a regular desk surrounded by students, sometimes even taking notes and participating in projects and experiments. Then, ten minutes later, I’ll be leading lessons, teaching cell structure and creating worksheets! It keeps every day exciting, it keeps me learning new things and it is also building my skills as an educator. It’s everything I love about school combined into one job.

I find myself calling my mom always ready to talk about what I’m teaching, how I’m teaching it, and all the teacher-y things I get to do now. We had parent-teacher conferences the same week and commiserated over the long nights together, we share the stories of joy our students give us, we joke about how many times we have to repeat directions and how one student is bound to still be lost. Most of all, she listens as I go on and on about everything I’ve learned and done and have yet to do. She’s seen me come full circle, from playing pretend in her classroom to teaching my own students.

The next step towards joining the long list of family teachers, is having my very own classroom. Next year, I plan to do just that, but in a little less traditional way. I’ll be teaching English for a language school in Vietnam. The skills and experience City Year has provided me makes me confident I can succeed, and with a whole family of teachers behind me, I know I’m never alone.

Article by Tessa Rhodes, City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps Member

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