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Getting Closer to the Finish Line

March 22, 2013

By Fidgi Simeon, Corps Member Proudly Serving on the Entergy Team at Samuel J. Green Charter School 

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.”

― Muhammad Ali


I had this thought that towards the end of the year, that the school days would get easier, that the stress would get lighter, and that I could cruise away faster towards graduation. I was wrong. After Daylight Savings began, it has been the complete opposite: The days are dragging, the students are more antsy and my patience is wearing thin. My emotions are being pushed in very uncomfortable ways.

Day to day, it’s interesting how I feel myself more present and in-tune with myself because of the drastic shift in my emotions based on those of my students. When one student constantly decides that he/she does not want to behave that day, or when another student is in need of more help than I can possibly provide, I feel empathetic towards them.  I struggle to do well that day.  I start thinking that I need help to help these students.  Then I think of the quote above by Muhammad Ali.  Suffer now, and live grand later.  I know that all of my hard work will pay off in the long run in both my students’ lives and my life.  I straighten up and put a smile on my face — I can do this.  For my students, for New Orleans, and for me.

Although I am here to close achievement gaps and invest my time towards accelerating high-need students towards success, I have learned that there is much more going on in my students’ lives than academics. Behavior. Emotions. Experience. It’s a world that I myself never knew until they brought it in the classroom.  Their experiences have transferred over to me.  I have learned about the landscape of both education and New Orleans from them.  I have felt their struggles, felt their hardships, and most of all felt their joys. My students are as close to graduating from kindergarten as I am from City Year. But, it is clear that moving on to the next grade may or may not solve many of the deeper issues that they cannot understand but that they feel.  The finish line may be near for me and my kids, however, there are a lot of miles left to reach it.  A bright thought that gives me hope for my kids’ future though is that they will have City Year with them for at least the next two years.  I hope that the future corps members can deal with the same frustration, exhaustion and, most of all, love that I have felt from the kids this year.

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