Thursday, February 13, 2003


i think i know what i want to do.. sort of.. i want to teach. whether it be grade/high school or college, i think it may be my calling. i think it's the route i need to take to do my part in changing the world. but realistically, i couldn't afford the pay cut. corporate america has me spoiled. really. it's a crying shame..

through my company, i'm involved with an organization called junior achievement (ja). they recruit business professionals as well as members of various organizations to sponsor a school and teach a class at the school to give kids an idea of what it's like to be in the workforce. a bunch of us at my company signed up to volunteer to teach one class period, once a week for a period of 8 weeks. i've been assigned to 7th grade, though my class has both 7th and 8th graders in the same room. ja provides all the teaching materials (i.e. course syllabus, guidelines, etc). all i have to do is go in and teach based on the materials they provide. it has by far been the most rewarding thing i've done in a long time. my kids are fantastic, and i think they really like me.

when we first signed up to volunteer, they asked if we had any specific requests, and i asked that i be assigned to a school on the south side of chicago. the reasoning was simple: most south side schools are attended by african american kids, because the south side of chicago is populated as such. and as we all know, black schools get the least amount of attention compared to their northside/white counterparts. well, wouldn't you know, we all got assigned to the same school, in the depths of the black community, and we take a school bus there every wednesday at 9:30am. it's quite an amusing sight, actually, a bus load of suburban white business professionals (barring myself and two other women, one black, one chinese) on a bus ride to the south side, who normally wouldn't be caught dead on that side of town.. hehehe..

at first the kids didn't really know what to think of me. they were curious of my ethnicity of course and probably wondered what the hell i was doing there. some paid attention, others did their homework. that was 6 weeks ago. now, i can safely say that i have the attention of each and every student in my class, and according to them, they really look forward to the ja sessions. of course it helps that i bring goodies whenever i can... :)

last week the topic was "getting your foot in the door" with respect to getting a job. and to drive the topic home, i arranged for a friend of mine to come in as a guest speaker. she was the perfect choice, as she works for a local university here in chicago as their student career counselor.. and she's black. they loved her. they learned a lot from her as she spoke about her university, and the requirements for college and the importance of going to college, not to mention information on getting jobs once you're out of college, i.e. networking, etc.

i really think that i've made a difference in their lives, and i don't say this out of wanting any personal mental satisfaction. some of them come up to me after class and ask me questions about my job and how i got there, and what i did in college, etc. they have a genuine interest in bettering their situations and it seems like they really look up to me to give them good advice. and i try my best. i try to tell them that they shouldn't let anything keep them from achieving their goals and they look at me with hope. it's priceless.

i used to date a guy who was a teacher and i thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. he used to tell me stories about his kids that would have me in stitches. at the time, i wanted to marry the guy, but things kinda didn't work out. but i digress. now i hear he's getting his doctorate in education. i think about him sometimes as i teach my class. i think he put the teaching bug in my brain a long time ago.

i have two more teaching sessions with my class and i'm really starting to feel sad about the fact that they are coming to an end. i really dig it. i think they're planning on doing this again in the fall, but i don't know if we'll get the same school, or even the same class. they are such intelligent kids and i really hope i've made them think, if nothing else. and i wish school teachers would get paid more because believe you me i'd quit my job right now to teach full time.