Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Holly Springs Part Five

It was the end of a long day of classes towards the end of a long school year in early April when I stood in front of the soon to be second-years and excitedly told them of the great change we were making to the program. Instead of taking classes in June, the second-years would teach summer school in Holly Springs and mentor the incoming group of first-years. In my excitement over the past few months of making this idea a reality I had assumed that the teachers would be just as excited as I was. Of course, we all know what happens when you assume.

The next few weeks I received many angry calls and emails and several people threatened to quit the program altogether. Even some of the people who never complain about anything called. A few, most notably Dave Molina who had complained about everything else, sent emails in support of the idea.

The problem, I believe, was this: everyone could see that MTC running our own summer school would be a tremendous benefit both to the teachers in our program and the children of Holly Springs. However, the second-years simply didn’t want the change to start with them, especially after being told in the beginning of the year to never teach summer school.

They had a point. I think some of the second-years still don’t understand how, as a program, we encourage our teachers not to teach summer school and then, later in the year, require them to teach summer school. Let me explain:

Summer school at most Delta schools is an eight-hour day with 30 kids and one teacher in one room. The kids have all failed, most have likely been a discipline problem, and the principal is around even less than usual because it is the summer. Furthermore, the kids’ parents have paid money for summer school and fully expect their children to pass. And in most Delta summer schools all the kids pass. Teaching that type of summer school will take years off of your life. What we were proposing was radically different…

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