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Category Archives: 2014 Carina Novell (San Diego, CA)

Serving with the Bayside Community Center

My Final Week

As I wrap up my duties here in San Diego, I can’t help but feel nostalgic. My host family has become my second family, including all of their pets. (see ClaraBelle pictured below).

The family pup, Clarabelle, playing dress-up in my shoes.

The family pup, ClaraBelle, playing dress-up in my shoes.

My host family has been so hospitable and welcoming. Gerry, my host dad, always shows me new running routes in the area, and Jennifer and I stay up late talking about school, work, and life in general. Last night we went out to dinner and a movie together. 🙂

This past weekend the host family took me to Point Loma to check out the cliffs and tide-pools. With our picnic lunch packed, we headed out. The view was gorgeous as we hiked along the cliffs!

Silly pic with my "sisters" at Point Loma tide pools. Quite the view, but soooo windy!

Silly pic with my “sisters” at Point Loma tide pools. Quite the view, but soooo windy!

Also that weekend I went to a Padres game with my friends from SMC that live a few hours north. We grabbed dinner before the game and had a good time catching up. Also, the Padres win was pretty cool, since every run they scored resulted in a fire/firework show at Petco Park!

Padres game with my friends from OC. Padres beat the Mets 5-0, with 3 homeruns. My host family said I looked like a local!

Padres game with my friends from OC. Padres beat the Mets 5-0, with 3 homeruns. My host family said I looked like a local!

Monday was the last day of school for the year-round schedule, which meant Summer Intercession at Bayside the next day. We fed the students lunch, and then sent them to read, do arts-and-crafts, and garden in the Linda Vista Community garden behind Bayside.

Last day of school! This is a snapshot in front of the Academic Club classroom with some of my students.

Last day of school! This is a snapshot in front of the Academic Club classroom with some of my students.

Doing an arts-and-crafts project with the students: each one made their own sea creature and then presented to the group.

Doing an arts-and-crafts project with the students: each one made their own sea creature and then presented to the group.

First day of Summer Intercession. Making tostadas with fresh ingredients from the garden with Miss Amy.

First day of Summer Intercession. Making tostadas with fresh ingredients from the garden with Miss Amy.

Overall, I would say my last week down here is bitter-sweet. I absolutely love the work I am doing, my host family, and the location. This experience has been once in a lifetime and I am so glad I was able to serve the Linda Vista community. This might sound clichĂ© or corny, but I learned so much from my students. I learned how to be more patient. I learned how grateful they are to be in the Academic Club. I learned about their lives, and their families, and how similar yet different we are. I learned a LOT about classroom management and lesson planning. I learned to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, because that’s what my students do everyday. They struggle with new words, new books, new grammar rules, but they take it in stride and struggle openly. I have tried to approach my fellowship in the same way. Coming into this fellowship I did NOT expect to basically become a teacher. But the students needed me, and I knew I had to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Granted, not everyday was  the best, and there were days where I felt unproductive and lost. But every night as I lay in my bed, I knew it was worth it, and I looked forward to getting up in the morning and doing it all again.

I am going to miss my students, Kit Carson Elementary, Bayside Community Center, the community of Linda Vista, and my host family. I can safely say this has been the most memorable summer of my life. My host sisters are already planning next summer!

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A Day In The Life

I wanted to share what a typical day is like at Kit Carson Elementary’s Academic Club.

From 10am-1pm I am usually lesson planning or working on other projects at Bayside Community Center. The project I am currently working on is updating the Academic Club Handbook. I am instilling the new Common Core into the handbook and creating lesson plans for the new Academic Club teachers Bayside will hire in the fall.

2:15pm- Students are dismissed from school.

2:30-3pm-Outdoor free time and snack time

3-5pm: Four 30 min rotations consisting of reading, homework, and literacy activities

5-5:30pm: Clean up and pick-up

 

 

Here are some pictures to give you a visual 🙂

The Academic Club "bungalow." Such a pretty mural to see everyday!

The Academic Club “bungalow.” Such a pretty mural to see everyday!

My whiteboard... I usually use the tiny one to display which group is doing what activity each rotation. There are four groups: Red, Orange, Green, and Blue, each at different reading levels.

My whiteboard… I usually use the tiny one to display which group is doing what activity each rotation. There are four groups: Red, Orange, Green, and Blue, each at different reading levels.

These are some pictures that students drew to go along with the poem Orange Group wrote... It's about a cat.

These are some pictures that students drew to go along with the poem Orange Group wrote… It’s about a cat.

One of my volunteers from USD helped the students on this project; they took really zoomed-in photos, pasted them onto construction paper, and drew the rest of the picture on the paper.

One of my volunteers from USD helped the students on this project; they took really zoomed-in photos, pasted them onto construction paper, and drew the rest of the picture on the paper.

The baskets of leveled books A-Z.

The baskets of leveled books A-Z.

More books, each shelf has group-level books and is labeled accordingly.

More books, each shelf has group-level books and is labeled accordingly.

 

My 4th of July Weekend- What a sense of patriotism and community!

At the annual El Cerrito Neighborhood 4th of July Parade... Matching t-shirts and everything!

At the annual El Cerrito Neighborhood 4th of July Parade… Matching t-shirts and everything!

The police and fire departments both came out to celebrate the 4th with the El Cerrito community. I got a personal tour of a fire truck!

The police and fire departments both came out to celebrate the 4th with the El Cerrito community. I got a personal tour of a fire truck!

Walking back to my friend's grandparents' condo nestled between Mission Bay and PB. Watched two sets of fireworks :)

Walking back to my friend’s grandparents’ condo nestled between Mission Bay and PB. Watched two sets of fireworks with some great new friends! Also learned how to surf the next morning… Kinda 🙂

Hiked in 95 degree heat with my friend Karim. This 8 mile round-trip hike was a doozy, but totally worth it!

Hiked in 95 degree heat with my friend Karim. This 8 mile round-trip hike was a doozy, but totally worth it!

 

Montgomery Middle School Academic Exhibition

This morning, a few coworkers and I went over to Montgomery Middle School just down the road from Bayside Community Center to listen to and give feedback on the 8th graders “All About Me” projects. I listened to 10 presentations, where each student talked about who inspired them, what classes they took this year, where they were going to high school, and their life goals. I was soooo impressed! All of the students were taking Project Lead the Way courses in robotics, engineering, and architecture. I wished I had those programs at my middle school! Every student was a first generation American, with their parents either from Mexico or Vietnam. All students said that their parents inspired them to focus on education and the opportunity it can provide them. Overall, I was so glad I could better get to know the middle schoolers of Linda Vista; many had come from Kit Carson Elementary, where I currently work.

At the end of the presentations, the students were able to ask me questions about high school and college. It was fun giving advice to some incoming freshman… Although I felt pretty old when I discovered that all of them were born in 2000!

 

Now I Become Myself: The Faces We Wear

The article “Now I Become Myself” by Parker Palmer, I couldn’t help but make a connection to a few commercials I had recently watched. Palmer discusses how people should use their God-given talents to help others in order to fulfill their personal happiness. However, many people do not know “who they are” until the second half of their life. Palmer asserts that the first half of our lives we wear metaphorical “masks” that hide the real us, in order to please other people. For example, the commercials I watched comment on pre-market discrimination, specifically sexism. Take a look…

Palmer believes these masks are futile, and that, “Faking it, in the service of high values, is no virtue and has nothing to do with vocation. It is an ignorant, sometimes arrogant, attempt to override one’s nature, and it will always fail.”

After watching these commercials, I’m not sure if Palmer is being realistic. While I hope every young girl discovers if she wants to be a scientist, engineer, or mathematician, I think the masks society forces them to wear from such an early age may become permanent. They may never realize that they liked getting dirty and experimenting, like “one of the guys.”

I do think we are at a crossroads. Commercials like these, and even a few Pantene commercials celebrate girls’ and womens’ strengths and comment on the double-standards, insults, or stereotypes that females must deal with.

Palmer may think that the masks girls put on will “wear off,” but according to the statistics these masks seem pretty permanent past 4th grade. But that is why programs like STEM are so beneficial. They encourage girls to take off those masks and follow THEIR dreams, not their parents’ or teachers’.

 

4 Weeks In

So, I’m halfway through this summer fellowship experience… And let me tell you, time is flying by! My host family is absolutely amazing, and I have been busy training before work and spending time at the beach with friends on the weekends.

What have I learned?

I have learned that I do not want to have kids any time soon! This might sound bad but being around twenty 2nd and 3rd graders is pretty draining. My host family has two daughters ages 8 and 6, and boy do they have energy! I love all the kids I teach and my new “sisters” but kids are a LOT of work… Seeing “kids being kids” makes me really appreciate my parents and their patience and dedication to raising my sister and me. I guess you could say I have learned a lesson in patience, because EVERYTHING takes longer with kids. Don’t get me wrong, kids do say the cutest things and are sooo funny at times. But they really are a full time job. But I also see how much their parents love them, both where I work and at home with my host family.

How have I served?

I have served the Linda Vista Community through the Academic Club. I have directly served twenty 2nd and 3rd graders, reading with them, helping them with their homework, and doing literacy activities. I have also listened to their stories, heard about and gotten to meet their families.

What impact have I made?

Last Wednesday the San Diego Unified School District Superintendent came to visit the Academic Club to see how it is run, etc. At the end, the ED of Bayside Community Center asked for funding for more Academic Clubs in other high-risk schools. The superintendent stated that she was on our side and was very impressed with the program’s success and high demand/enrollment.

Even though I have only been here a few weeks, I feel like my students are improving. One student came up today saying, “Miss Carina, by teacher wanted me to tell you that my reading level is J now!” She was reading at a H level last week, but had tested two letters higher! She was soooo excited, and it made me happy to see her excited to read.

What’s to come?

I hope to learn more about discipline and how to better handle the students. They still kind of view me as a “substitute” teacher, and so I am still adjusting to their high energy. I would also like to better get to know the new ED of Bayside, Corey, and ask him what I can do to help more at Bayside. I plan on proposing some new literacy lesson plans and activities that coincide with the new Common Core that the students will be tested on next year. I have been researching the Common Core and noticed how it focuses a lot on critical thinking and reading comprehension rather than just memorizing facts or asking opinion questions.

All in all, I am falling in love with San Diego and found myself looking at grad school programs at USD, UCSD, and SDSU… Specifically looking at Public Policy, Economic Sociology, or Law degrees. This fellowship has inspired me to become a voice of leadership for the disadvantaged, and I believe Public Policy, Law, or Sociology would allow me to become the best advocate I could be.

 

 
Video

Justice of the Common Good: Three Types of Justice

Author Michael Sandel begins his argument with an anecdote regarding John Kennedy’s speech about his Catholic religion not effecting his judgement if he were to be president. Here is the video; it’s refreshing and inspiring to hear it rather than just read it:

Sandel contrasts this with Obama’s platform of having faith as a guide. While both liberal and conservative aim for “neutrality,” the facets of this neutrality are very different. For liberals, neutrality means neutral government intervention in social areas, and for conservatives it meant neutral government intervention in the economic realm. Sandel goes on to discuss the morally-charged classic debates between the two sides: abortion and same-sex marriage.

Sandel’s take on marriage was something I had heard my Labor Economics professor discuss earlier. Instead of having a conventional “marriage contract,” all relationships should be a choice between the one, two, or three people, not a government institution. While this point is extremely radical and will most likely never gain ground, the point it brings up is pertinent. This particular part of the reading stood out to me most, because it was so radical and freeing of past constricting social standards.

Sandel summarizes some possible themes of “new politics of the common good:”

Citizenship, sacrifice, and service

The moral limits of markets

Inequality, solidarity, and civic virtue

A politics of moral engagement

Working at Bayside’s Academic Club, I found myself focusing on the third theme that Sandel proposes. The issue of economic inequality is so apparent. Even within the Linda Vista Community, there is a part of the neighborhood which has larger, more suburban type housing, and right down the road are small, run down apartments with no cars outside because the inhabitants cannot afford one. Sandel says that inequality has been a political problem since the 1970s, but I believe it is much more glaringly obvious now, and a problem my generation needs to tackle. Because, with the loss of a middle class, democracy will soon be lost as well. Focusing on this problem will ” help highlight the connection between distributive justice and the common good” (Sandel, 268).   Creating common spaces where people from all social and economic classes can meet and connect will foster the important relationships a functional democracy needs.