By Yessica Garcia, AmeriCorps Member, Harvard Pilgrim and Riverstone Co-Sponsored Team,
Serving at Beech Street Elementary School

Do you remember your first day school? This year was different, the familiarity of college chaos was gone, and on September 2, 2015, 11 individuals and I set foot into a new school. After three short weeks of training my team and I were ready to embark in this new journey, my second first day of fourth grade.  At first, I felt like a fish out of water. Not knowing what to expect everyone welcomed us with open arms, after all they were familiar with the red jackets walking around their school. The first day was both exhausting and exhilarating. Mr. Tran expressed his excitement when he found out he was doing his year of service at Beech Street because it was one of the schools he attended as a child. He said, “I felt nostalgic walking through the halls and knew that I would be able to give it my all serving at this school.”

Aside from excitement, nostalgia, and nerves we were all thrilled to start #makebetterhappen. Prior to our first day in our school we all got told our grade placements, it all felt too surreal. I was placed in a fourth grade classroom and I couldn’t be any more thrilled. Unlike many of my teammates my partner teacher was new just like me. Prior to starting this academic year, my partner teacher was a Certified Instructor at Beech Street who accepted a long term substitute teaching position. At first I felt like I had gotten the short end of the stick, and I was worried. How was I ever going to have a positive connection and establish a good relationship with a long term substitute teacher? For those of you who don’t know me, I am a quiet individual, but I constantly try to put myself in situations that are out of my comfort zone, this was by far the most “squishy” thing I had ever done. After our first conversation during our hour one, time set aside for us to get to know one another and answer any questions, my preconceived thoughts were only a distant thought. She was full of new ideas and incentives for the classroom, and it was easy to feed off her energy. 

As my year of service is winding down, I find myself reflecting more often than not, and I can now say that I couldn’t imagine carrying out my year of service without the help and support from my partner teacher. The work we do is both rewarding and difficult in many different ways. Day in and day out we dedicate countless hours towards the education of our students and not everything we’ve tried has worked, it’s a game of trial and error. As Franklin Roosevelt said, “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” Like many of the staff, my partner teacher welcomed me with open arms always having a listening ear, helping hand, and willingness to listen to my ideas. Her humility is indescribable. 

To my teacher, I greatly value all the help and support you have given me over the year. You have motivated me in ways you cannot imagine by being supportive, inspiring, and encouraging. Thank you, for always making me feel welcomed. Never in a million years did I think I would become part of such an amazing community who really believes in the education of our students.

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