Friday, September 6, 2013

"Working" To Make A Difference

Being a second year Literacy AmeriCorps (LAC) member have many perks. The program and what to expect for the year is no longer a mystery. Getting around South Florida no longer gives you nightmares and makes you loose sleep. You're seen as a "veteran" and everyone wants to know what you know. However, the best benefit is the opportunity to pick the site that you want to serve at first before any interviews happen. It was through this advantage that I ended up serving at EdVenture Charter School for this year!

My service year at The Lord's Place (the site that I served at during my first year in LAC) was a fantastic opportunity that enabled me to make some pretty amazing networking connections. I was also exposed to a population of society that is constantly overlooked and under represented. However, I wanted a different experience for this service year that would allow me to teach and work with the same group of students for the entire year. Enter EdVenture Charter School!

EdVenture is a school that serves students between the ages of 15 and 22 that have behavioral, social, and/or academic issues and are not able to successfully function in the public school system. One of the really unique things about this school is the fact that there is also a vocational aspect built into the curriculum. Students that are apart of the EdVenture family have the ultimate goal of reaching the Green Card level. This level is achieved through earning an average number of points each week for 9 straight weeks. It is only after students reach Green Card and successfully complete close to 600 hours of employment that they can graduate from the school with an Option 2 Diploma.

I've been serving at the school for two weeks now and can already see that this is the perfect fit for me. The students can be a bit rough at times (I was recently called a "white cracker" by a disgruntled student the other day), but I've already made some pretty awesome connections with some of them. Some highlights include:

- One student telling me on the first day that I'm going to be his best friend by the end of the year and then letting me know that he already likes me better than last years AmeriCorps member (sorry Kayla!)

- One student in the GED prep class already giving me a nickname and greeting me when I get to school in the morning - all of this after 2 days at the school!

- Connecting with one student that has attendance issues by giving him my lanyard from last year and making a deal that in order for him to continue possessing it he had to show up to school at least three days a week (I'm gonna bump that up to four days in a bit - gotta start small)

I'm can't wait to see what the rest of the year is going to bring and what type of experiences I'm going to have. This will definitely be a year of growth and I'm looking forward to seeing the growth of my students!