Dear Friends and Fellow Advocates,
Today is our first day of Professional Development post- Los Angeles Institute and gosh, it has been a whirlwind. Since accepting my offer to Teach for America that fateful day in November, I have been all TFA all the time. When I first began preparing for this fall, I was unsure about what my role in Teach for America would be; I was less than thrilled with my placement, Secondary Special Education Social Studies (I went to school to teach Elementary) and struggled to internalize this new vision of me as a high school history teacher. I stressed myself out over Tioki deadlines, demo lesson plans, and hiring events, and when I didn’t land my first interview I was devastated. Luckily for me, those same interviewers called me a few days later and offered me a stellar job at Stella Charter Middle Academy as their Eighth Grade Resource Specialist Program Teacher (Multiple Subject), just when I was getting comfortable with my original placement. Now, after teaching at Markham Middle this summer, I am feeling much more confident in this age group and I am so excited to start Professional Training and Development with my new job next week (Although, I am still terrified I am not qualified enough to be perfect for these kids).
As I reflect on my time at Induction and Institute over the last six weeks, it is the relationships I have built that stand out to me the most. I realize that I have grown both professionally and personally in drastic ways. This time has proven to be transformational for me as a person, although exhausting, stressful, and very difficult. I am typically a pretty shy, anxiety ridden person and coming into Induction/Institute I forced myself to leave that box behind me. I am so glad I did. I forced myself to meet people throughout Induction and to speak at our all corps dinner the Saturday before Institute began, something I was extremely uncomfortable with (just ask anyone at my dinner table who watched me stare at my plate too nervous to eat, haha). I sat with different people for every meal, didn’t fall on my face during my speech, and finally began to feel comfortable within our tight knit group of 200 LA corps members (;
Then the other regions came. I was so not looking forward to this. Going through this whole scary process again with 300 more people, letting my walls down, sharing myself. Or worse, becoming close to people who were going to leave me in five weeks? I wanted to spend my time with my fellow LA-ers who I knew I would be able to see over the next two years in the corps. To celebrate successes with, to commiserate and regroup after failures, the LA people were my people. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I could not imagine my Institute experience without some of these people who came from other regions. I went from being so judgmental to being actively anti-regionist. I couldn’t imagine Institute without my beautiful collab, Kirsten(Bay Area), who taught me that it’s okay to be a dork in front of my kids, or Robert(Bay Area), who was always pushing back on my thinking and opinions so I was forced to objectively defend or reexamine my thoughts, or Dominic(San Diego), who I was able to admire always treating everyone so beautifully, working so hard for his kids, and always striving to be better for his colleagues, kids, and school. Plus I don’t even know what to say about my CMA, Miss Courtney(Bay Area). I feel like I found so much inspiration, not to mention a lifelong friend in this girl. Between her quiet determination to push us forward constantly, her expectations for us to succeed, her calm collectedness in the face of my frenzied panic, and her constant help and advice that she gave in the most loving and non-judgmental of ways, I couldn’t have dreamed up a better mentor, or a more beautiful person to come into my life. Even our home IL, Taylor(New York), left a major impact on me as I left every session feeling ultra inspired and empowered to Be the Change. He challenged me to expand my thinking on education, racism, and society as a whole more in these five weeks than anyone has in all of my higher education. I couldn’t have been more grateful to be able to internalize some of his brilliance to aid me in my classroom. Now that Institute is over and I have lost all of these people, I don’t feel like I’ve lost them. I feel lucky to have had these learning experiences and I feel like these relationships, although they may change, can withstand the distance between them.
Then there is still my LA friends whose relationships will keep me afloat over the struggles and triumphs the next years will present. Jami, Luis, Chanel, Benino, Jordan, Erik, Lorenzo, Ruth, Jackie, Brian, John, Saya, Humberto, Nancy, Jordan, Alec, TJ, David, Jana, Ari, Tunji, Christina, Brooke, Britney, Tasneem, Lexi, Suneeta, Jay, Jeffrey. So many people I care so much about. So many people to challenge me to be better everyday. So many people that I cannot be more happy to be in this fight with. I know together we can accomplish so much. Together, one day is closer than we think. The last five weeks have been so far out of so many of our comfort zones; I know it has been miles outside of mine. But I have learned, outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.
Live the Dream.