So I’m reporting in the third official week at Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School. It’s been a smooth transition into a scheduled routine, I’m happy to say I have some autonomy to set my own hours. Now that mornings are more habitual, it’s becoming easier to wind the alarm clock back in order to get to Clark, located right off the I-10 236A Esplanade exit, by 9:00 or 9:30.
I’m thankful to report that aside from my pre-work morning routine and average 7-9 hour day, my days vary while in the “office.” I work out of the Student Center, formerly the Front Office at Clark. I work at a desktop and share the room with Ms. James, the College Coordinator. However, the Student Center is also home to both of Clark’s Social Workers, the RTI Coordinator, Speech Therapist and School Nurse. It’s safe to say that my workspace is always abuzz with the outside, energized environment of Clark’s student body. Parents, faculty, staff and 9-12th graders peruse, query, roam and find sanction in the Student Center. Principals, teachers and faculty administrators are constantly in and out (the Conference Room is in the back), students request and receive information and parents resolve a whole host of questions and concerns here.
What do I do in the Student Center? I’m the young woman with a lunchbox and folders who, 80% of the time, is testing the strength of the keyboard as I blast out e-mail after e-mail (“Can you teach me to type that fast?” – Principal Coleman) to pre-established partners, potential new ones and the Clark community at large. So, you ask, where does the “varying routine” I aforementioned get brought into the mix? Well, as my tenure (just kidding) should have it, the longer I am at Clark the more opportunities for new experiences present themselves. I have begun meeting with new partners and existing ones, scheduling meetings and attending enriching events that give more meaning to the work I am doing.
The accumulation of activities came from my open and sincere interest in getting more intertwined with the Clark community. These involvements have introduced me to new people, take on new tasks, and sparked tons of ideas in my mind. Monday, August 13th was the first full day of classes. That week was incredibly hectic for everyone else in the building, but because I do not work directly with the students, this gave me the opportunity to do plenty of research and contact teachers about possibilities for the upcoming year that they tabled until the dust settled in their classrooms. For now I feel ahead of the game. But who am I kidding, how can I be?!
Since the program I am working in, Together for Tomorrow, is a 2–year pilot program, I find it important to mention that I am the second VISTA at Clark Prep High School. This means that next year it is unlikely that there will be another VISTA member posted up at this formerly failing high school. The surrounding Tremé community has shown wonderful signs of improvement and the same can be said of Clark. With that said, I have a responsibility and commitment to the school to improve it’s sustainability within the year that I am here. As my predecessor Mike Jayes put it, it is important to have our actions be deliberate, that way we do not lose time to efforts that will be discontinued upon exiting, or equally as bad, slowly dwindle away for lack of ownership and interest by the community we are serving.
Want to hear something really cool? It’s cooler than reading this blog, I promise. Trey Songz visited Clark last week! His inspiring speech and singing were quite impressive to say the least. Check it out for yourself!: