December 18th, 2006
The Academic Program students dove into the city with their Directed Studies. I attended the Directed Study presentations & felt like I was at a professional conference – except, perhaps, more passion was floating around the room.
Here are their topics:
Brittney Howland, Adrian College – Who do Club Dress Codes try to Screen Out, and Other Boundary Maintenence
Erin Lusk, Albion College – A Field Study of Inequality in Public Transportation
Christy Sicher, Ohio Wesleyan Univeristy – Does the Quality of Food Vary in Chicago Public Schools? Whitney Young College Prep and Englewood Technical High School
Dustin Schaber, Willamette University – A Ground-Level Evaluation of Chicago’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, in its Fourth Year
Seth Schoming, McPherson College - What Role Does an After School Video Production Program Play in Youth Development?
Megan Loniewski, Albion College – Food and Fairness: A Comparative Study of Food Quality in Four Chicago Neighborhoods.
Amy Marquardt, Albion College – CTA Green Line Stations and Perceptions of Safety
December 18th, 2006
On December 6 all the students were together again – Academic Program and Student Teachers, and most of the staff. We gathered at the Chicago Center Office for a morning of reflection, insights, Starbucks coffee, cinnamon rolls and stories.
Program Director Emily Nelson asked each of the students to talk about their internship/student teaching placement accomplishments and how the experience would influence future career plans. Here are some of the things students had to say.
I have a better understanding of public relations. At times, we were in upscale situations and I felt out of place. But now I am more interested in PR and the direction I am going.
My ‘kids’ made me cry on the last day! I can definitely see myself coming back here to teach.
On my first day, my supervisor handed me two 40 minute tapes I had to edit down to a 30 minute show. I finished by the deadline! I learned that I want to work with video production, which I expected, but now I know I want to also incorporate work with youth.
I loved walking home from my school (in the neighborhood) and all the kids out there saying Hiiiiiiiii to me…one day, one of my little boys came by my side and started walking right next to me. He began to sing the “You Sing the Story” song (which we were learning at school) and we walked all the way down the street together singing.
Geometry was my favorite. I taught them math language and proofs and didn’t think it took – but on my last day my students put all these math symbols and crazy ‘if-then’ statements on the board. . . I have also been hired as a Math Cadre (permanent substitute)
None of us start as teachers. We start as students. I hated my cooperating teacher for the first two weeks. Now I know that everything I learned from him was for my benefit.
One day I attended a community meeting for fathers, with my supervisor. My supervisor got a call and had to leave. He told me to take over the meeting and I did. The next day we went to lunch with a millionaire donor, who ended up giving us 30 digital cameras for our program. I took over that meeting, and I wrote to proposal for the cameras. I learned to take charge and take advantage of things. I learned to appreciate my own voice.
The first half of my internship I followed case managers around to meet with their (homeless) clients. Each case manager had this impeccible ability to never assume anything about the client. They never led the client down a path that would be easy to write up later. The second half of my time, I interviewed service providers all over the city and compiled a report for my supervisor, which she will use in the monograph she writes for the Mayor of Chicago.
My school was majority African American with some Asian and Latino. Some of the teaching felt constrictive, because we were teaching from a script for test preparation. But I learned to infuse the curriculum with my personality. What I learned the most, which I never had before, was the courage of my own convictions.
I worked at a residential program for homeless youth and my area was vocation and recreation. If you saw them on the street you wouldn’t know they were homeless. There were lots of reasons for them being there – some were gay and were kicked out of their home. Some had parents who couldn’t care for them, because the parents lived in a shelter, or were substance abusers. I learned I want to work with youth in my career. This has become something important to me.
My school was awesome and I felt welcomed right away. My teacher and I did a lot of team teaching, which I learned to really appreciate. One project I did on my own was a mural project about Egypt. This experience only made it clear that I want to teach. I can conquer any situation now.
I taught first grade gifted students, with a 2nd grade curriculum. My school offered me a job, so I am thinking about coming back to work in Chicago. One of my stories is about teaching contractions. One group of my kids wasn’t understanding no matter what I did. So at recess I sent everyone out but them, and we worked out those contractions. By the end of the lesson I was jumping around in front of the board and they were shouting out the right word.
I worked at a health and lifestyle center in the public relations area. I taught nutrition and exercise classes and I gave speeches and wrote a lot of letters (for funding).
Both my school placements were strange in a really good way. The fine arts elementary school had lots of prep time, materials. I got to teach choir and guitar. The high school arts academy was elite – one of the top 2 in the nation. The kids were extremely smart, talented. The environment was much more loose than I expected and felt a lot like going to college. In fact I was asked to teach college-level music theory and ear training. Even the jazz combo was at a high level. So I had to really step up.
I taught English to a 99% African American school. I learned that being in education means you are working with the pulse of the city. You see so much, the kids never stop talking – about family, about their community. They’re the ones telling you what’s going on.
December 6th, 2006
This Fall, 13 students from the University of Notre Dame Multicultural Center spent a week with Chicago Center. From their first day of a Gospel Mass, Greek Lunch and Live Jazz, to learning CTA, visiting the American Indian Center, seeing amazing plays and touring Chicago neighborhoods, we gave them what one student called “one of the best weekends of my life!”
The students made a video of their experiences in the city. You can view the video here: Diverse City
Comments from some of the participating students:
“I feel I am much more knowledgeable about the ‘real’ Chicago. Only having visited Michigan Avenue, I never realized the city was so rich culturally. If I ever decide to go back to Chicago, it won’t be to go shopping, it will be to eat a great meal at the Nile Restaurant and catch some spoken word at Cafe Nine 17.”
“People fear the unknown. Before this seminar, I didn’t know a thing about Chicago’s neighborhoods. I would not have felt comfortable landing just anywhere in the city and knowing how to handle myself. After a week riding trains and buses to every part of the city, I almost felt at home. What I learned in Chicago wasn’t something you could draw on a map, point to in a statistic, or even cite in a paper. I learned about other people and that they are not so different from you and me.”
“Anyone can benefit from this program, because no matter how much you think you know about race, culture, or socioeconomic issues, the people themselves are the most important. By visiting Chicago, you step out of the text book, away from the statistics, and into the lives of real people.”
“The city is much larger, more complicated, more vibrant and with far more struggles & challenges than I imagined before….Analyzing is good, but I need to remind myself that there is reality behind it. I had assumptions about the way things work, which are wrong. I also realized that I CAN fit into a city.”