:::Pre- Institute Work:::
While reading through my Pre-Institute work I got a little nervous about the reality of the achievement gap in America. Before I started doing some research for and through TFA I was completely oblivious to the injustice many children face in the public school systems here in the states. Because of different socioeconomic conditions and low expectations many students are not given the opportunities other students get from a public school that may even be located in the same state.
Only one in ten students from a low-income school will graduate from college. Isn’t that just crazy to think about? Most students are reading two or three grade levels behind where they are supposed to be.
Here are some other thoughts I had while reading the text:
STEREOTYPES ARE THE SUFFICATOR OF DREAMS AND CATALYST OF LOW EXPECTATIONS. The biggest obstacle to a student’s success is actually low expectations. I must be aware of my conscious and my unconscious biases and expectations. I want to be able to push students to take academic risks and challenge them to be okay with failure. I know that I personally struggle with failure and that is why I often shy away from setting big goals. After reading this text though I see the importance of setting big goals and a plan to achieve them. I mean why try if I am only going to be apathetic about it. I do not simply want to survive as a teacher for two years. I want to excel. And how do I excel as a teacher? I push my students to excel. I don’t want to expect anything short of a miracle to happen in my classroom. I serve a HUGE and PERSONAL God. I pray and ask Him to take control and may I just be a warm body filling up a room, watching miracle after miracle happen as shackle after shackle breaks and eye after eye opens. May I see life come to these students as they begin to believe in themselves as well as something, or Someone bigger. I don’t just want to go down there and “be a social worker. And put shocks on their cars to make their ride so smooth”. Meaning I don’t just want to make their life here on earth or in school easier. I want to see life breathed into them through Jesus Christ. How will that happen? I have no idea. But I pray that it does!
I am horrible at goodbyes. Absolutely horrible. I know that often I disconnect from my feelings or just don’t allow myself to really think about what I am about to do…leave. This time was no different. I said goodbyes to friends and family and tried to spend time with the people I love the last week. It wasn’t until I was an hour away from Delta State that I realized that I was MOVING. I was not just visiting or taking a mini-vacay. I was moving to Mississippi and this was going to be my home for two years. It was then that I started to cry and really internalize the fact that I was now simply Nebraska grown. That was not my place of residence any longer.
:::ON THE ROAD:::
The 14-hour drive was so refreshing and went by unbelievingly fast. The Road Trip Challenge was so helpful and a huge blessing. To catch some of you up to speed – The Road Trip Challenge was something I compiled for my own sanity. I facebook/emailed from friends and asked for some “challenges/dares” that I could do during my trip. I completed 16 out of 24 challenges during the two-day trip. Here is a list of a few of them.
#1 – Drive for an hour in silence.
#6 – Pray with at least one random person along the way (this is a great story, ask me if you want to know more – God is faithful!)
#8 – Stop and dance on a country road (did this at the Iowa border!)
#23 – Listen to a podcast (I actually listened to a sermon on the radio and then an audio book called “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan… but I counted it)
#25 – For each piece of candy you eat, pray over a friend, enemy, or family member.
#16 – Put on some worship tunes and sing as loud as you can
#13 – Pay attention to the billboards and look for something a little bit different that they are advertising like “World’s Largest Pudding Cup”. It can be anything a little bit out of the ordinary or very out of the ordinary. Then go to it. (I went to an Amish Pecan, Jerky, and Cheese store… and an orchard)
#18 – Find and take a picture of a car for each color of the rainbow
#15 – Memorize a section of scripture (I reviewed the 30 day challenge verses… good enough?)
#17 – Thank God for something of every letter in the alphabet
#4 – Drive down the expressway for 5 miles with your head out the window (surprisingly refreshing: just wait for a strip of highway that is clear, roll down the window and drive. This made me laugh out loud)
#12 – Pull off at the next rest area, set your camera on your car hood on self timer and take a picture. (Arkansas was beautiful!)
#2 – Pull off at the next exit and buy a thing of chocolate milk. Chug it in less than one minute.
#14 – Make up a worship song about what is on your heart.
#20 – Pay for the person behind you in the drive-through.
#24 – Call the 23rd person in your contact list on your phone (It was Ann Hershberger! I was so excited - and guess what else - she is also the 23rd contact in phone... yeah somehow she was a contact in her own phone)
One thing I had to be cautious about with the challenge was looking at it as a venue for God to work through. I saw myself wanting to make it a to-do list that I had to get done, but really it was supposed to simply make me more aware and open to the leading of the Spirit. It was not supposed o be the point… just a means to be open and willing to be stretched… while having a bit of fun! Ha
I arrived at check-in at about 4:30pm. I was covered in sweat due to the increased humidity down south and the lack of air conditioning in my car. While unpacking my stuff it was odd to find that my clothes were a bit damp from the difference in climate. I was overwhelmed with a sense of loneliness within the first few hours. There were so many people around me but I knew that they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them. Oh how my heart ached for an honest friendship. Kelsey called and challenged me to go talk to people but all I really wanted to do was sit in my room. But after hanging up the phone and praying, asking God to grant me divine appointments, meaningful friendships, and a heart to love I headed down the hall. I just want to get to know and love the people around me.
God has truly blessed me and provided in immeasurable ways. I realize more and more how I need to stop worrying, for He truly has it all in control. One of my roommates is a sweat-heart from Alabama and a believer. She is so encouraging and we are actually in the same small group throughout the day. And last night I went for a run with another CM (Corps Member) down the hall. We had a really great conversation about faith and the Bible. She was so open and it was so encouraging to be with someone else who doesn’t claim to have it all figured out but really wants to know Truth. I also met a girl that knows how to play the guitar pretty well. I am excited because maybe she can help me learn more sick guitar skills while I am here for the next six weeks. She is such a humble, soft-spoken leader. I pray the Lord will continue to give me a servant’s heart and a spirit not of timidity but of power, love and self-control!
Interview Day = This Friday!
Praxis II Testing = Saturday Morning
A Heart To Love