I arrived early in the morning and meet all of the PE teachers and got right into it. I shadowed Jarrod that day. He had to enter some grades in and said, "this list is of all the names of kids who are incarcerated." Right then and there I knew this was going to be an interesting day. Feeling a bit nervous we headed into the first gym class. The classes are not coed so there was either all girls or all boys. The first class was all boys and were all either juniors or seniors. The first thing I observed was that the ethnicity's consisted of African Americans and Hispanics. This was a lot different then my high school because most everyone was white. Jarrod started to tell me some of the kids backgrounds and pointed out gang members, drug dealers and kids with bad home lives.
Now I live 15 minutes from Rochester and I see and hear stories on the news everyday about the multiple murders and shootings in the city. I would be lying if I said I wasn't intimidated by the environment I was in. However, when I started to observe and interact with these kids I found how caring and respectful they were. That's something you don't really see in suburban schools. Kids I went to school with are snotty and disrespectful to teachers. Jarrod said something that will stick with me forever, "once you earn their respect they will do anything for you. Just showing you care about them and what they go through everyday will earn their respect." It clicked. It is my goal as an educator to inspire the youth whether it be through PE or just being that one person who appreciates them for who THEY are. That's the original reason I was inspired to become a Physical Education teacher in the first place. My 5th grade PE teachers showed me how to be passionate and enthusiastic about gym class everyday. I looked up to them. That's what these kids at East were like. They were happy to be in school and exercising in gym.
The rest of the day seemed like a dream to me. I felt like this is where I should be...somewhere I NEED to be. Those kids inspired me. I want to make a difference in their lives. I got to observe my first adapted PE class and absolutely loved it. We played Just Dance on Wii and those kids have better moves than me! Finished the day off with an all girls class and played mat ball. When I left that day I thought about all I had learned. I always thought that I would rather work in a cookie cutter suburban school because its what I'm used to. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed an urban city school more. In fact, I felt like that was where I fit in. I hope that I can get placed at East for student teaching in spring 2014. I know it will be challenging but if you really want something you have to reach for it. Thank you East High for inspiring me!