When I began my TGC service at the Ford School in Lynn, I was given an extremely unique opportunity that not too many college freshmen get the change to take advantages of. I was placed in a first grade classroom as an assistant for about two and a half hours each Wednesday for the first semester. The first day in this classroom, I was asked by the teacher, Miss McKenny, to take a student to a separate room to work on numbers. He is dyslexic and had a difficult time looking at the number 5 and understanding that it was the number five. Being a disabled learner, I immediately knew how this student was feeling: stupid, ashamed, and confused. I was so blessed to be given that opportunity, to see the way that he learned from the tools that I had gained through my many hours of studying and the help of tutors over the years. I saw this child understand because of the help that I was able to give him and my life was changed.
Miss McKenny is twenty-two years old. She graduated from Salem State this past May. She student taught at the Ford school in a third grade classroom last semester and that is the extent of her in classroom experience. She is a fantastic teacher and gives her students 110% of her time, love, and patience when in her classroom. She started the school year with 18 students and today she has somewhere between 22 and 24 children in her room with transfers being a normal occurrence and children being pulled out of the school too familiar to the classroom. The drastic change in numbers is because of some issues with other classrooms size that forced my students to move to another room half way through October.
Two weeks into my service, Miss McKenny offered to let me teach a lesson while she ran prep for the next day by another teacher. I was honored, terrified, and 100% willing. I went to the front of the class and I taught. I taught twenty-some first graders how the letters in the word “have” fit together to make a word. I felt such a blessing in that gift, the gift of giving knowledge. At the end of that day, the teacher asked if there was any way I could come more than once a week. She does have control over her classroom, but being the only teacher without constant help in her classroom everyday sometimes staying calm and collected is a hard feat. God provided and I was able to give her every Friday for the rest of the semester. I am now able to spend 9 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. with these children. My time in Lynn will also continue with my Fridays because, by some miracle, my schedule is completely free. God is good.
Being able to spend over thirty hours in this classroom has been life changing. I have changed my major to Early Childhood Education and plan on becoming a teacher in the public school system in Massachusetts and working my way up to a principle or a superintendent in order to work towards justice in the system that is so flawed today. My eyes were opened to how the public schools work and how so easily a child with a learning disability can be forgotten and left behind to fail. The part of the all of this that really touches me, is that it can change, I can change it and through my service in Lynn, this dream seems tangible.