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Corps Member Monday: The Good, The Bad, and the Sleepy

September 16, 2013

By: Noel Thompson,  Corps Member proudly serving on the New Schools for Baton Rouge Entergy Louisiana Team at Broadmoor Middle School

It’s the same tumultuous struggle I have every single day- the hardest part of the service to which I knowingly have dedicated a year. Some days are victories and smiles, and some days result in failure, but you grit your teeth through it all, and you fight on to serve another day.

I’m talking, of course, about Bell Checks (but half credit to the most sardonic among you who believed I was talking about making it through a day without coffee stains, as that is concurrently accurate). Every day as the 8th graders trickle into Ms. Richard’s 8th grade math class, blurry eyed or waiting to discuss the latest school gossip with their friends, they are obliged to sit down and begin working on a starter assignment for the day. This may range from straightforward math problems to analytical thinking skills. As I float around kneeling from student to student to ensure they are grasping the concept, Ms. Richard walks around giving participation points to the ones who are diligently working in our perfect model classroom.

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Now, as forewarned, there are very GOOD days, and there are very BAD days for this…Let’s go ahead and get the latter out of the way. I have one student that we’ll call B. B is a smart kid in my advanced Algebra class who comes into class every day singing and chatting. B doesn’t like doing his Bell Check, and could make a endless list of things he would rather do than doing the math that is “forced upon him” (If you’re wondering how I know this, he has on multiple occasions done this for me. I had to stop him at #102 because I thought he was wasting the paper at that point). In addition to not absorbing and practicing the material the teacher wants out of him, he instigates the same behavior in his classmates.

Now, let’s take a break from B for just one minute. Don’t worry all you fearful readers; we’ll come back to him. City Year doesn’t abandon children. My first block period with kids is our Intervention block. This is intended for students who might need a little extra help in Math or English so they might pass the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) and progress to high school. One of my students comes in every morning and places her head on her desk; still enamored with the dreams she was unfortunately stolen from. Generally it takes a little while, but she’ll get up and start working after a little motivation. Recently, we had an ELA where students had to write a multi-paragraph essay about someone that made a difference in their life. A lot of students wrote about their parents, their friends, or their role models. I walked by my sleepy student and read the following sentence:

“The person that has made a difference in my life is Mr. Noel. He makes sure I stay awake so I can learn my maths and go to high school.”

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With the knowledge that I haven’t particularly trained in the skill of inception, this is what City Year looks like to me. Regardless of my student’s disposition, desire to work, and background, we are here as members to make a positive difference in their lives. So no matter how many times I have to ask B what we’re doing, I will be there again the next day, with my red jacket ready to coerce the school into a positive learning climate.

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