Four years ago Brent and I moved back to Los Angeles. I transferred from KIPP DC: AIM Academy in Anacostica to KIPP Academy of Opportunity in South LA. I took on a new role as a fifth grade reading teacher, a subject I’d never taught. I essentially copied a mentor reading teacher of mine, Lelac Almagor, building a classroom focused on developing a deep love of reading. It was the first year I felt successful as a teacher. I felt like I was finally hitting my stride. Students were invested, reading levels were improving, and I finally felt a sense of work-life balance. This group of student was particularly zesty (and by zesty I mean lots of energy, attitude and sassiness). Anacostia prepared me beautifully for any challenging classroom experience, so their behavior didn’t really faze me. They were needy and sometimes their energy was difficult to manage, making many teachers question how long they wanted to do this education thing. I’ve taught for six years, and “deaned” for two, and this group has by far been my favorite.I love their self-awareness, their loyalty to their friends, their excitement for learning, and how they embody teamwork. During the course of their fifth grade year all of their core subject teachers left mid-year, except for Alaina and I. Some had valid reasons for leaving, and I fully supported their need to move on, but others left because it was just too hard. This was a trend not only during their fifth grade year, but continued throughout. Today they culminated from eighth grade, and are off to high school all over the city. I am not an overly emotional person, but seeing them brought back so many incredible memories. Together we brought reading marathons to KAO, and they proved to me they could read for two hours straight. Together we travelled to San Diego as fifth graders, and again in seventh grade. Together we were acknowledged as high performers for reading growth, being recognized as top ten across the entire KIPP network of 125+ schools. This group of students helped Alaina develop as a classroom teacher for the first time. Alaina and I supported each other through the challenging year of teacher turnover, and the experience gave me a best friend. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had with this group of students. I can’t wait to see what they achieve in life. I’m not trying to be overly sappy. They really are extraordinary. Below are few photos from the time we’ve spent together 🙂
OK, so I know I haven’t talked much about running lately, but there really is so much more to life than running. I love to run, but my work and relationships are so much more important. However, in VERY important running news, Alaina’s Ohio BFF Andrea is running her first marathon this weekend. Alaina, being the amazing friend she is, flew up to Banff this afternoon and will be cheering her on. After graduation we made a pit stop at the new Whole Foods in Playa Vista for Acai Bowl (yes, it was amazing) before dropping her off at LAX. Can’t wait to hear all about Andrea’s race! GOOD LUCK ANDREA!