Today we did our direct service in Yenel’s Alma Mater, Noble Street Prep College. At first we talked with the Superintendent, Michael Milky, and then Principle, Mr. Olsen. They discussed their mission and answered any and all of our questions. What stuck out most to me, and many in my group, was how humanizing and accessible they made issues like gang culture and racial prejudices. I greatly appreciated when the principal shared his views on his students; saying that whenever he hears a potential teacher or otherwise refer to his students as “these kids,” red flag are raised. It really challenged how I thought of oppressive language. Whether it be a racial slur, “politically incorrect terminology,” or “These kids” and “those people, they all label and categorize a group of people based on unfair and arbitrary reasoning.
The second half of the day we split up. Most of us experienced the classroom environment and helped specific teachers. I, however, had the opportunity to help a group of teachers, all from the Junior class, who were working on a new leg of their curriculum. Observing from the charter school teachers’ point of view, I was blown away by the immense devotion that the teachers had for their students. That day they had received a report of a large increase in their students’ practice ACT scores; and the the teachers were basically as exuberant as the students. I was also touched by how cognizant they are of every aspect of their facility in order to create the most conducive learning environment. While discussing a potential assignment, these two teachers were very careful that the wording of the quiz did not come across as violent. it was obvious that the teachers did everything they could to make their students feel safe and secure, and I was so moved by their dedication to their students’ success. One last thing about the learning environment, every time a student got the right answer, participated, and even when I was introduced to the class, there was a chorus of snaps in welcome and congratulations. The mentality of the class was all about being the best you could be.