Durm ’11 Used Football to Talk Leadership

Nick Durm ’11 - This afternoon was a good day of teaching. It was a perfect subject for a Wabash man. I broke the ice with the students with discussions about leadership. I told them that on the Wabash football team we define leadership as influence and that they are always influencing people, even if they don’t realize it.

The lesson turned to a quick idea of what it means to use that influence properly. After that I was able to facilitate student analysis of what they were reading out loud, which was Orwell’s Animal Farm. On this trip, I have learned the importance of relationship in the classroom, and how important the student-teacher connection is to engaging the student in class. Kids are kids, and can be engaged no matter where they live, as long as the teacher can make that connection.

After classes and a long commute back to the hostel, we debriefed for the day. Then Josh Miracle and I went on an adventure to the nearby lakeshore and through Millennium Park. This was a great experience, because it was a beautiful day to spend outside in Chicago. We threw the football in Millennium Park and then used our free passes to a local gym to get a quick lift in. For dinner tonight we were on our own, so we went to a local pizza place and got some real Chicago deep dish pizza. It was delicious.

This week has been a great trip for new cultural experiences. There were the ones that were planned by our education professors, such as the city market (Hispanic culture), the Red Apple Polish buffet, Pilsen (formerly Czech, now Hispanic), and Chinatown. However, just as interesting have been our
experiences with the Chicago culture, especially near to our Hostel. Needless to say, the people of Chicago are unique, or as Kam would say, ";a different breed around here."

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Singfield ’11 Sees Best of College Prep School

D.J. Singfield ’11 - For some, it’s an outstanding college prep school; for others, it’s a leader in technology; still for others, it’s a caring, nurturing and safe environment for students to learn and grow. During the course of 50 years, Gordon Tech has addressed the needs of young people preparing for higher education and a career of their choice. Each student is important at Gordon Tech. The emphasis is to help each student develop aspects of his or her educational experience, whether academic, physical, social or religious.” 

This week has been such a blessing. Getting the opportunity to teach in an urban environment has been quite the experience. I have had the privilege of teaching and observing in Gordon Tech High School which is a private Catholic school located near “The Loop” in Chicago. This school has about 500 students and 40-45 teachers who are close-knit and have been awesome to interact with. After being able to teach and talk with students from Gordon Tech who have a much different educational environment than most teenagers,

I noticed vital components of teaching that will be important to keep in mind in the future. I was uncertain and tentative of what to expect, but after meeting my host teacher and having a couple of students I was encouraged and excited about the week. My idea of private school students has been completely changed. I’ve realized that no matter which institutions students attend, how different their home-life situations are, and what ethnic or cultural differences they possess they are all simply kids. They all deserve the best education that you as a teacher can offer and if you believe in them they will believe in themselves.

This week has been a blast! Sharing this experience with Chris Beedie, one of my best friends has made it even better because he has been abroad for a semester. Happy Mother’s Day Mom! ( I might be a little late on that!)


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Miracle ’11 Worries About CPS Future

Josh Miracle ’11 – “Single file line, everyone must pass through the metal detector, get your IDs out, take off your hats.” Upon walking into Kenwood Academy, one is graciously greeted by one of many fine security guards. At first I was a bit skeptical to walk into such an environment, but I have learned that Kenwood Academy is a great institution. 

Although I have only been at Kenwood for three days, it is clear that the teachers genuinely care and have the students’ interest at heart. I was shocked at how many Honors and AP courses were offered by the school. In addition, teachers offer ample study sessions, workshops, and tutoring sessions in order to help the students prepare for AP and ACT tests. Aside from tests, Kenwood also requires students to perform 40 hours of community service and apply to a handful of colleges before graduating. I will have to say that I am worried that Kenwood’s culture of facilitating learning is in jeopardy. The Chicago Public School system has cut numerous teachers which will leave Kenwood with about a 35 to 1 student to teacher ratio.

Today I was able to teach an AP psychology class. The lesson was built around the new television series Lie to Me. The lesson became very interactive when I presented students with an array of facial expressions. He/she then attempted to identify the person’s emotion within a matter of seconds. This unique approach to social psychology generated a great deal of discussion and was viewed by my host teacher as an absolute success. 
Aside from teaching a more diverse class than accustom to, Chicago has expanded my culture in other ways. I now consider myself an avid traveler on the Chicago bus and train system, know where the local gym is to hangout, and have been to the fabulous Chinatown. In Chinatown, we were able to meet up with three leaders from OneWay Ministry. These men had taken a few members to Africa during spring break. With the three of them leading the way, we were able to experience unique tapioca filled Chinese smoothies and discover the ins and outs of the Chicago Stock Exchange. 
We visited a top level stock trading business in the heart of downtown Chicago. It was a great experience which showed me the importance of trade across the world. This was a perfect way to end a very eventful day in the city.

In photo: Josh Miracle and Tommy Mambourg.

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Mambourg ’11 Teaches First Class in Chicago

Tommy Mambourg ’11 – We are passed the halfway point, and this week has been exciting to say the least. However, Tuesday was one of the more interesting days thus far. Forgot I left my CTA pass in the pair of pants I wore on Monday so I had to run back to the hostel to use it for the day. However, being five minutes late to my teachers plan hour opened my eyes up to more of the disciplinary issues at Kenwood Academy. First, if students are late to class they are supposed to scan their ID, and the computer they used to scan prints out a receipt or tardy slip. Being tardy to class seems to be a common occurrence at Kenwood, so administration is trying to put a legitimate stop to the recurring problem.

Today, I was able to teach as well as sit in on a meeting for social studies classes before the first bell rang. For my teaching, my host teacher wanted me to start the class up with a bell ringer asking an open ended question describing the word terror. The response from students was great as I started to adjust to the classroom. The short discussion led students into their assignment for today which was assigned questions in groups of twos on the life of Napoleon. In my meeting with the history department I saw the passion of teachers and the variety of styles that are brought to their classrooms. This gave me a better understanding and feel for the colleagues my host teacher works with.

Near the end of the school days, with the help of Dr. Iazetto , Dr. Butler and Dr. Pittard, as students and travelers of this city we have expanded our knowledge on the culture of Chicago. Using the public transportation system has been eye opening. Some of the things seen on the trains and buses have been quite amusing. Also, after a dinner out in Chinatown this evening we visited a very successful stock exchange company with the help of some individuals from OneWay ministry.  Although, it felt like a sauna where the headquarters were run, it was nonetheless beneficial. 

As we wrap up the week up, I just wanted to give a quick shot out to the seniors who are graduating this Sunday: best of luck in the real world, you guys have made an impact on Wabash College, thank you. 

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Beedie ’11 Embracing Hispanic Experience

Chris Beedie ’11 – Considered by my host teacher to be “the best kept secret in the Chicago Public School system,” Benito Juarez Community Academy is a school with a level of cultural identity I have never experienced before. Far from what I experienced at my high school, which is not more than 20 minutes away, Benito Juarez clearly takes pride in the cultural heritage of its students and community. With 95% of the student population being Hispanic, the school is decorated with mural paintings traditional to Mexico and Latin America and the hallways and classrooms are abuzz with students speaking Spanish during passing periods, as well as during class.

The classroom which I have been observing thus far this week, and which I will have the opportunity to teach later on in the week, is host to “Spanish for Spanish Speakers I” as well as “Spanish for Spanish Speakers II.” Before learning of my placement for the week unit, I actually had no idea that such a class existed! To me, the availability of a Spanish class completely geared towards native Spanish Speakers is the perfect example of the ability and desire of this high school to take pride in, promote, and preserve the cultural identity of the student body and the surrounding neighborhood. 
Although all of the students in each of the classes that pass through room 316 each day are native Spanish speakers and have undoubtedly been speaking Spanish far longer than I have, not many have had much prior formal Spanish grammar instruction and it is interesting to me to see the mistakes they make, why they make them, and how a teacher can address these common mistakes and teach Spanish grammar to native Spanish speakers. 
Not only has the weeklong Wabash Urban Education unit blessed me with the ability to spend the entire school day in this amazing, culturally rich environment, but I also get to spend the week with a teacher who is definitely passionate not only about the subject she teaches. Not only is she passionate about her students, she is even more passionate about the students she teaches. This attitude of the teachers speaks volumes to me. Sure, many teachers will have pride in their school, but I think that the attitude at Juarez is completely different.
From my experience the students have been hands down the most well behaved students I have observed. Yes, I will hear occasional curse words (in Spanish and English), more than at other schools, but I have never observed students who are so respectful when the teacher is talking or when they are to be working on something. While there still are students who may not be paying attention like at any other school, at least they respect their fellow students and teacher enough to not disturb the class.
This week will definitely be one that I will always remember, not only in my educational experience preparing to teach, but also as a teacher in the future. I greatly value the ability of Benito Juarez Community Academy to maintain such a strong cultural identity and to continue to provide its students with a classroom environment where teachers and students are so actively involved together in education.

In Photo: Stairs in the Pilsen train station. The students toured the area Tuesday afternoon.

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Stipes ’11 Learning Lessons on Community Diversity

Cody Stipes ’11 – I have had a great experience in Chicago. I have been observing at Whitney Young High School, the Alma Matter of First Lady Michele Obama. As you enter the school, you can tell that W.Y.H.S. is a step above the rest. The faculty, staff, and students are extremely intelligent and I am fortunate to be able to observe such a great school. My host teacher has been a great resource and has taught me a lot about the Chicago Public School (CPS) system. 

As many of you may know, the CPS system has been facing many financial challenges and W.Y.H.S. is no exception. In fact, last week about 300 students from W.Y.H.S. staged a walk-out in protest of the Illinois Government’s decision to cut education funding again. It is believed that the walk-out drew the attention of those at the statehouse in Springfield.

The educational experience is challenging in Chicago, and the continued cuts are doing nothing but making it worse. At W.Y.H.S., they have discussed releasing more teachers and increasing their class sizes to 35 students or more per room. I remind you, this is at a selective CPS school. The hard and unfortunate side effect of these cuts will only continue to hurt the students of all Chicago Public Schools were it has been a battle for year just to get students to graduate from high school. 

Experiencing the educational atmosphere in Chicago during this time has been extremely beneficial for me, because it is inspiring. It is inspiring because we need to make sure we make the best decision as voters when it comes to electing officials who will ultimately make decisions about the direction of our school systems. It is inspiring because I am seeing that the world of education needs strong leadership from young educators like the men in our Wabash Education Program. It is inspiring because there are so many young students throughout this city who can truly be transformed by having one teacher care and thinking that one teacher might just be you.   For that, I am truly fortunate to have been able to experience this week in Chicago.   

Besides teaching, we have been able to get around the city and see what Chicago has to offer. Today, we only spent a half day in the schools and enjoyed the rest of our afternoon in the Pilsen neighborhood with Guillermo Delgado, a colleague of Dr. Izzetto. As I got off the bus to join our group in Pilsen, I was walking through the neighborhood and I honestly couldn’t believe we were getting a tour of this place. It looked really rundown and not very interesting, but as Mr. Delgado showed us the beautiful art and culture that has been present in this neighborhood for so many years, my opinions really changed. 

Mr. Delgado formerly lived in Pilsen and was able to tell us stories and explain the importance of the different sites we saw along our walk. After we finished, I realized that Chicago is a lot like Pilsen. On the surface, it looks just like every other big city. However, once you hear the stories and experience the cultural importance of the different sites, you start to find a city that is rich with traditions that truly make it a unique place. I could definitely see myself living in Chicago and teaching in the CPS system, which is something I was not sure about before this trip. 

Tonight, a group of us are planning to go out and experience more of the night life in Chicago by watching the Chicago Blackhawks playoff game and my beloved Cubs. I am looking forward to the rest of our stay and getting the opportunity to teach at Whitney Young on Thursday.

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Turner ’11 Finding Differences and Similarities

Jake Turner ’11 – They call Chicago “The Windy City.” Well, today the appropriate moniker would have been “The Rainy City.” While the weather was not perfect today, my experience so far at Whitney Young High School has been flawless. WYHS is a magnet school on the near Westside of Chicago that is extremely diverse. The school’s enrollment of roughly 2200 students consists of 31% African-American students, 21% Latino students, roughly 18% Asian students, and 30% Caucasian students. In regards to racial diversity, this is a far cry from Crawfordsville High School, which was where I did my student teaching this past semester. 

I am observing and teaching in the English department. My host teacher has three English 9 classes and two Speech & Debate classes. For the most part, the students seem eager to learn and excited about school. In the English classes, the students are reading and discussing The Odyssey, while in the Speech classes, the students are participating in debates. I watched a debate today over whether or not Physical Education should be required for all four years of high school. It was an interesting debate on a fascinating issue, and the students performed admirably. After the debate concluded, I was able to participate in a class discussion and probe the students about their true feelings on the subject. 

By in large, the students seemed to agree that while exercising and living a healthy lifestyle are important, the students should have the option of choosing – or not choosing – to participate in Physical Education classes during the latter part of their high school careers (currently, WYHS students are only required to take P.E. classes during their freshman and sophomore years).

Through only two days in a CPS school, I have already learned many things. First, students in CPS schools, or at least in WYHS, are very similar to the students with whom I am familiar in Montgomery County schools. While there is much more racial diversity in the CPS schools, the issues – such as student apathy and tardiness – that students and teachers are forced to deal with here are similar to the ones with which their peers deal with in Montgomery County. Also, like so many other schools across the nation, CPS schools are being forced to deal with budget cuts. Just this past week, over 300 WYHS students staged a walkout in order to show their support of the teachers whom will be cut at the conclusion of the school year. Despite the fact that it is such a large school, the students at WYHS actually seem more involved and engaged in their academics than the students from back home. This is refreshing and inspiring to me. 

I believe that many inner-city schools across the country get a bad rap. However, Whitney Young High School and its students have proven to at least one future educator that the will to learn and succeed transcends and supersedes racial and social boundaries.

In Photo: Turner talking with Education Professor Michelle Pittard.

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