Today's guest blogger is Drew Van Vleck, an AmeriCorps Member at IS 123X.


Nicole, 24, proudly serving at IS 123X in the South Bronx, NY

"I want to be a speech pathologist, so I wanted to get a better sense of working in a school and working with students one-on-one and I thought CY would be an awesome opportunity for that. I especially want to work in schools where students aren't given as many opportunities or aren't given enough resources to succeed. Students at these schools need people around them to tell them that they can succeed, and I want to be one of those people. Students need a consistent leader who holds them to high expectations."

"Our first day at IS 123X was during 6th grade orientation. We got to play a lot of icebreaker games with the incoming 6th graders where I met some of the students. At first they were really shy and they didn't want to talk to us. But once we started talking and hanging out with them and played ‘The Great Wind Blows’ they all opened up. There was one student who didn't talk. She was very very quiet. But when we started playing ‘Sharks and Minnows’ she held my hand and she was like 'We're gonna run together. We're gonna get on the other side Ms. O!’ and from then on she knew my name and she still always says hello every time we [cross paths in] school. She always comes up to me. She was one of the first students that I made a real connection with." 


What has been the hardest part about service?

"Getting here on time"


What has been the most rewarding part about service?

"When my students remember a literary term or concept that I just taught them and then they use it in a complete sentence correctly… those are the best moments. Like today in book club, one of my students couldn’t remember a term, but I gave her clues and the definition and she was like 'Ms. O! Its onomatopoeia!' and she said it correctly.”


Ryan, 6th grade student at IS 123X in the South Bronx, NY

“School is important. If there was no school we wouldn’t have knowledge. We wouldn’t even know what’s two plus two.”

“My favorite thing about school is afterschool. There's different clubs that we get to be in that we want to be in. Being able to choose - that’s why I like it so much. I didn’t know that there was going to be history of hip hop or break-dance club. I didn’t get to be in break-dance, but it’s alright because hip-hop is good too. I get to find out good rappers that are new and different from the rappers I listen to.”


What is the best part about 6th grade?

“I don’t know - there’s a lot. Like math. I like exponents. That’s the best. Doing math questions. And then social studies because I like learning about history.”


What is the hardest part about 6th grade?

“Well like, what were learning right now, with tape diagrams, it’s kind of confusing. When the teacher explains it, like when she writes it out, I get it more. But when she explains it like just talking, it doesn’t sound right. When she writes the problem down but doesn’t write the answer I be like ‘oh that’s how the problems supposed to go’. I learn when I see things written down.”


What is your proudest accomplishment?

“Playing basketball. It’s just fun. Winning is awesome. And when people give you compliments it’s good. It makes me feel really happy and proud.” 

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