SO, it has been one crazy week and I have a TON to share! Last Tuesday through Sunday was my Induction week located in beautiful Alabama. My 82 2012 Bama corps members and I spent the week getting to know each other, exploring the state, and being so graciously welcomed by the various communities in Alabama. We received warm welcomes by way of community celebrations honoring US. I can’t believe it. I can definitely speak on behalf of my entire corps when I say that WE are SO honored to be welcomed into Alabama and WE are the ones who should be thanking the community members. Alabama is wonderful, and, after spending time all over the state, I can confidently say that I will be so happy wherever I am placed. Maybe Birmingham…Maybe rural Marian… (two stoplight town, see below).
SO, now that our fun week of welcoming and reflection is over, all 82 bama corps members are in the Mississippi delta staying in the dorms at Delta State University. We are here along with corps members from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. All together there are over 1000 of us here in the Delta this summer working for one common goal: close the achievement gap and help ALL students achieve academic excellence. WOW, powerful stuff… just being here is incredibly motivating and inspiring.
This is all becoming very real. This month and next we will be real teachers, working with real students, who are in real need of academic growth (most summer school students are there because they did not pass their grade level exit exams and risk being held back). This will be tough. After this week of instruction and seminars, we will have just 5 short weeks with our kids to reach necessary student achievement.
There is obviously no time to waste. I woke up at 4:30 this morning… enough time to get ready, go to the cafeteria (feeding time at the zoo) to get breakfast, go through the assembly line to pack my lunch, and then make it to my morning school bus by our departure time at 6:00AM. Headed off to our school sites!
Then the best part of my day happened. I was welcomed to Akin Elementary, which will be my home for the next 5 weeks. Home of the Akin Owls!! (Chi O or Die O). I also learned that for the summer I would be working with rising second graders (my favorites)! YAY YAY YAY.
I am on fire with this mission of all children accessing transformational education opportunities. Over the past two weeks I have at times been shocked, appalled, unnerved, angry, and truly overwhelmed with the striking statistics that low-income children face. Racial stereotypes little assess to necessary tools, and lowered expectations plague low income kids on a daily basis and inhibit them from outperforming their higher income peers.
I cannot WAIT until next week when I will meet my summer kids and families and be able to set our academic growth goals for the summer. I know (without having seen their faces yet) that my summer school kids CAN and WILL achieve, and I cannot wait to do everything in my power to make that happen for them this month.
Tonight was the opening ceremony for the Delta Institute. All the regions got to show off their region pride (Bama may be the smallest corps here, but we certainly made up for it in spirit)! All I needed to get pumped up was to listen to the story of Mrs. Matt who sat beside her own Mississippi delta student. Aurora Williamson gave us her heartfelt story of the challenges of race, poverty, and lowered expectations that she faced growing up. Then, she discussed the impact that her transformational TFA teacher, Mrs. Matt had on her life. During her jr year of high school, with Mrs. Matt’s relentless aide, Aurora increased her ACT score from a 14 to a 26 in one year!!!! She graduated a week ago and starts college on a full ride scholarship in the fall.