By Holly Fields, AmeriCorps member serving on the Gossler Park Elementary School Team.
Next to orientation and being chosen for school teams, meeting your partner teacher is one of the more exciting yet nerve-wracking aspects of becoming a City Year. You'll never know what environment, or teaching style, you'll experience the coming year. When that moment finally comes, you find it's actually pretty easy to adapt. At least, that's my experience. I had the pleasure of being placed with a partner teacher that is not only dedicated to her work, but one that drives her students to attain the highest level of success.
There was a buzz of chaos around Gossler Park the day we were introduced to our partner teachers. Each classroom was being rapidly pieced together for the first day. But as my Impact Manager guided me down the fifth-grade hall, a delightful hush swept over the classroom that HAD to be mine. After all, we had made it to the very end of the hall. As we walked in, we were greeted with this wonderful and colorful classroom that was absolutely overflowing with books of various genres. A woman, presumably my partner teacher, was leaned over her desk organizing papers.
An understandably awkward introduction was had, and from there, it's history. I learned that Mrs. Belland was from Tennessee, and I’m from Georgia! It may not seem like much, but southern folk are their own kind. She studied archaeology, and so did I! We also both share a strong passion for education and an excitement to see what every day brings. Each new thing I learned about her struck me in a familiar sort of way. It was within the first few days that I realized I had been blessed with one of those 'near-magical' partnerships that just work well. As with any partnership, there's hiccups and miscommunication, but it's the progress that occurs because of these hiccups that strengthens the relationship itself.
No doubt that the beginning was rough. After all, she had never had a City Year before, and I’ve never had a partner teacher! There were a few times where our miscommunications cost us time or resources, but as we fall into the swing of things, our miscommunications are becoming few and far between. We are gaining a mutual respect and understanding for each other as we dedicate our effort to these wonderful students but understand that we aren’t the perfect team. Each new day in the classroom is filled with new lessons for the students, my partner teacher, and me. You never know what the day will bring but so long as you make the effort, each day will be a wonderful new learning experience.
Now, nearly three months into the school year, my partner teacher continues to push students to work beyond what they assume their capabilities are. She's patient, knowledgeable, and beyond dedicated. She's here early every morning to prepare for the day in order to assure that these students are getting the most out of their school day. I'm extremely grateful and hopeful for this experience to grow with not only my class, but my partner teacher as well.
City Year New Hampshire is fundraising for Camp City Year! If you would like to help send Manchester students to camp over February vacation, click here to donate.