Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Start

Its official. I have jumped on the blogging bandwagon.

Over the last year or so, my life has gone through many changes. Until very recently I have been questioning what I was going to do and where I was going to go as , dare I eve
n it say adult. Now here I am, sitting at my favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn, preparing for the start of "At-Risk Youth Teaching Training" thinking about how I got here. I guess it all starts with that ridiculous bus ride.

As most of you know, last April, while at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, I spontaneously deiced (much to
my parents objection) to take a volunteer trip across the country with 150 strangers headed for New Orleans. The "Dirty Hands Caravan" was a coming together of social activists to promote and create good. Whether it was through the building of a house, the cleaning of a neighborhood, or the giving of a hug, this trip showed me that YES in fact, WE all CAN make a difference in the lives of others. The caravan stayed in NOLA for 3 days, yet I did not feel as though I was ready to leave, and deiced to stay and volunteer for what would be about 3 more months. During my time in NOLA, 6 other volunteers and I resided in Central City, the most notoriously dangerous neighborhood in all of New Orleans.

One would think 3 years after Hurricane Katrina, that a state, especially here in the United States, would be up and running again; providing its residents with the bare necessities of life. Yet this was not the case. My eyes were opened, and my heart ached for the condition
of this great American city. Try as I might to accomplish some sort of change, (I hung drywall, painted, demoed. planted, etc. etc.) I found that my talent really resided in working with the "at-risk" children of the neighborhood. I instantly became a friend, a mentor and "Auntie Sarah" to a dozen or so kids living in my neighborhood. They became my passion, and inevitably changed the course of my life. (The whole trip is being documented in a documentary film produced by Sean Penn, "The Dirty Hands Caravan", and is planed be released sometime this year,)

Due to some health issue, but mainly extreme exhaustion, I regrettably left NOLA late in the summer, and head back home to Thousand Oaks, CA. Although nothing is quite as comforting as being at home with my wonderful family, I quickly realized that I needed something vastly different then the Southern California culture I had grown up to know so well. I sold my car and my furniture, donated al
l my clothes, packed 2 suitcases and moved to New York City. (Constantly reminding myself "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.")

Well let me tell you, the first 6 months in NYC were rough. It was FREEZING (why I deiced to move in the beginning of winter, I still have no idea), lonely and unfamiliar. I had trouble meeting people, finding my way around, and was constantly getting on the subway going in the opposite direction of my destination. I worked a couple of waitressing jobs to help make ends meet, blasted through my savings, and new I had to figure something out soon or it would be so long NYC.

I was riding the subway one day, when I saw an advertisement that said "Do you remember your third grade teachers name? (Mrs. Bladen) Who will remember yours?" This was a posting for The New York City Teaching Fellows, and accelerated teaching certification program in NYC, somewhat like Teach for America. I went home, got online and frantically put my application together in 2 days.

After 4 months of waiting, 7 hours of interviews, 20,000 other applicants and the end of winter, I was accepted into the program as a Secondary (6-9 grade) Earth Science Teacher, assigned to teach in an "at-risk" (Title 1) school in Brooklyn. The program also offers a subsidized master degree, and I will be receiving my Masters of Education from Brooklyn College over the next 2 years. I had found what I came here for.

The next few years are going to be like nothing I have ever experienced. I have been warned that first year teaching is one of the hardest things someone can do, and in fact only 1 in 3 teachers survives their first year teaching in the NYC public school system. Top off the difficulties of first year teaching a failing educational system, troubled students, and masters degree coursework...yeah its going to be a little rough. BUT....I have never been so excited for anything in my life. I feel that everything I have gone through, done, and seen through my short 24 years, was preparation for the next three, and my new place in the fellowship. I have been given the opportunity to teach. To give children, children who need it the most, the foundation and passion to achieve success. I cant really imagine anything more beautiful.

So...I deiced that now was as good a time as any to start my blog. Training for the fellowship starts next week, and although my journal really loves hearing about what I go through everyday, I thought my friends, family, and loved ones might as well. SO here, through "Daily Splendors", I will chronicle my life as a first year teacher, the trials and tribulations, the joy and tears, and inevitably the life changing experience that is ahead of me.

I love you all, and thanks for reading, and thanks for taking this ride with me!

Until later.....



Casey Robertson said...

What a year! I'm so excited for you, cousin :) Good luck with everything and keep us posted!!!