Whew! It's been a long and crazy hard past week, but I wanted to take a couple minutes to post a quick update to all of you who I promised I'd stay in touch with :) Here's the basics:
1. The Rio Grande Valley is beautiful and I am totally pumped to be teaching in that region beginning in August. Mc Allen, the hub of the valley, is a pretty large town (80,000ish people) with some familiar stores and lots to do. That was kind of a surprise. I pictured everything down here being really rural. Parts of the valley are definitely more rural than others.
2. There is so much beautiful Hispanic culture down here. I am definitely a minority, but it's a really good experience to be challenged to adapt to. The Mexican food here is muy delicioso! Unfortunately it's really not safe to cross the border even though we are less than a mile away from Mexico in many parts of the valley. Everyone I've talked to down here whether they are a Mexican native or have lived in the valley for years says to stay clear of the boarder at all costs.
3. I still don't have a job placement in the valley, but I keep hearing that we will all have jobs by the first week of school, so I'm trying to chill and not stress too much about not knowing exactly where I'll be teaching. However, I can't find an apartment, roommates, or move my stuff down until I know what town I'll be teaching in. Deep breath!
4. I made it through my first week of institute in Houston sheerly by the grace of God. Institute is basically teacher boot camp, and we are working our tails off to become the best possible teachers we can become in 5 short weeks. I've been waking up every morning at 5 am to shower, eat, and board the bus for my school site by 6:30am. We attended training sessions from 7:30-4:00pm and then go back to Rice University to create lesson plans and classroom management plans. I didn't get to bed before 11:00pm most nights this week. It was seriously crazy and the training team definitely didn't lower their standards even if we got like 3 hours of sleep the night before. We are all exhausted but seeing growth in our ability to make a significant impact in our classrooms.
5. The people here are amazing. I am not in this alone. There are 775 of us from all different regions in the south training here in Houston for the summer. Everyone I've met has an incredible story, contagious passion for being here, and a sense of urgency to achieve the mission of giving all kids the opportunity to have an excellent education. I am in the company of so many people who have lived more and done more in their first 22 years of life than most people strive to accomplish in an entire lifetime. It is both inspiring and incredibly humbling. I'm thrilled that these amazing young people will be radically changing the life prospects of their students in areas where the prospects look bleak at best. What a gift they have to give!
6. Rice University is amazing. I have my own dorm and it's beautiful and clean. The food here is fantastic- all fresh and lots of healthy fruits and veggie options. The facilities are gorgeous and incredibly functional- resource rooms, copy centers, printing stations, a rec center that rivals Dixon (I still love OSU, but I'm thinking Rice would be a sweet place to attend grad school).
7. Tomorrow is my first day of teaching summer school. I've been so busy trying to get all my lesson plans and materials together that I haven't even had time to get nervous yet.
8. We are setting up a student store as part of a reward system for the students who work hard and behave well in class. They will earn tickets every day that they can turn into the store in exchange for fun school supplies and other goodies. It would be AMAZING if any of you could send some goodies for our student store. We are paying for the majority of our supplies and rewards out of our own pockets and it is adding up fast. Anything you could send would be so appreciated! Here's a list of ideas
-pens (colorful, mechanical, or otherwise exciting)
-pencils (same idea as with pens)
-other fun things you find in the school supply section ;)
My address here at Rice University is in my previous post.
Ok! Gotta get back to planning and writing out Thursday's and Friday's 9 page lesson plans. I miss all you friends and family back home. Sending a big cyber hug to y'all :)