I asked the high school principal to randomly select a student, print their schedule, and introduce me to them. Joland Stokes, a MSHS Junior, is a soft-spoken young man with a great smile. These two characteristics were what put me at ease from the start. He simply said, "hello, come with me" and off we went to first block, Health Class. During this time, I was his partner working on a 'one-pager' or one page summary of a health topic. Our topic was injuries. I found Joel to be a hard working student, who made sure he - I mean we - completed the assignment properly. First block comes to an end; I am already noticing how uncomfortable the desks are.
Off to second block, English. Immediately after the bell, the class is thrust into the world of "The Devil and Tom Walker", a story by Washington Irving. We learn that Tom and his wife fight constantly; leaving Tom with bumps and bruises. Tom meets the Devil, or so we assume, and the story takes off. Personally, I love literature! I found myself impressed with the participation from my fellow classmates. I even joined in to respond to the teacher prompted questions which guided the class. Second block comes to an end; the desks are VERY uncomfortable!!! I don't know how I ever sat in them day in and day out.
Lunch in the cafeteria with Jo and his friends. While standing in line with Jo, we could not help but laugh as one of his friends finds my brief case where he normally sits. For a minute, I worried he may throw it out the window. Jo assured me that his friend is not the kind of guy and went over to explain. The friends at Jo's table were welcoming and surprisingly comfortable around their superintendent. They told me that the best sauce for the chicken nuggets is the barbecue. Lunch went by very quickly and it was off to our next class.
Third block was Culinary Arts. I was able to taste a delicious carrot cake made by one of the students. I learned about sanitation guidelines for restaurants. The students spent time critiquing Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The class discussed an upcoming cultural day they are planning which will include food from the class's diversity. The class is coming to an end; the seats are still uncomfortable and I am beginning to feel a little tired. Our students do not get any down time from the start of the day until now. I am impressed with how they do not seem to be showing any signs of fatigue. Youth!
The fourth and final block of the day is Spanish 3. Although I spent four years of my own high school experience as a Spanish student, I found I was more than a bit rusty. The energetic Spanish teacher captured all of our attention and rarely spoke in English during the entire block. Fortunately for me, she did allow the students around me to assist when needed. It was needed often. We worked through a video in Spanish, working to understand what was happening to the characters. The class was interesting which made the time go by quickly. The classroom was very warm as the air-conditioning is not yet turned on. I honestly found myself feeling exhausted from the heat as well as the rigors of the experience.
Ultimately, our students work very hard. They transition smoothly from one content area to the next. I noticed that our staff has positive relationships with our students. Our students are amazing! Smart, funny, and determined to be the best they can be. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity today, to spend time in the shoes of one of our students. Take-always, we need to have furniture alternatives. Sitting in the desks all day is simply unacceptable. We also need to have working air-conditioning for our students and staff.
As promised, today was non-evaluative. I was not in the classroom to evaluate the teacher or the students. I instead put that aside in order to just experience the day through the eyes of a student. I would like to thank the teachers who helped make my experience a memorable one.