This summer has been a very different summer than last summer. I knew it would be, but I hope readers can forgive the lack of updates since the first week I was here. I'm halfway through my time in California this summer, and it seems fitting to share what a current "day in the life" is like.
Part of what makes this summer so much different from last summer is that I am working exclusively with the Puente Summer Youth. Last summer, I was a volunteer, and anyone at Puente could ask me to do anything at any time. The diversity of tasks I was assigned last summer was broad. This summer, I really get to maximize my talents by working with the kids in a capacity similar to a summer guidance counselor and academic supporter. Each of my days is filled with hour-long meetings with the students as individuals or in small groups. I am charged with holding them accountable to completing their summer reading assignments, helping them draft (for most of them their first) resumes and cover letters, and offering academic supports in the present as well as in anticipation of the new school year. My favorite part of meeting with the youth is getting to read to them. Being read to as a child was something a loved. I so valued those times when my parents would read to me at home and my teachers would read to me at school. I loved reading to kids I would baby-sit as a high school student. And now, I have the privilege of sharing those moments with the Puente youth. I am up to my ears in books each night trying to read a little from each of their books so that I have some sense of the plot and can pick up with them when we meet in person, but it is so worth it.
In addition to meeting with the youth one-on-one or in small groups, I also meet with various Puente staff members and school officials from the local school district to make sure each of the students is uniquely served in the way that is most appropriate and helpful to them. The relationship between the school and Puente is unique and almost fragile, but both organizations have the students' best interest in mind.
Occasionally, I have the privilege of joining the students on field trips. Last week, I led a field trip with the 14 & 15-year-old students to Facebook. Facebook, through the good works of their employees Bryce and Angeline, does such an amazing job hosting student groups! It was a fun trip, and the students learned a lot. They also became very interested in pursuing internships with Facebook in the future.
Last Friday, we took the students to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and then to Cal State Monterey Bay for a college visit. It was a long day, but hopefully the students learned something new and benefitted from the new experiences.
My day-to-day seems a bit uneventful to write about, but the meaningful parts are the relationships made along the way. And hopefully the work that I've done for Puente this summer puts them in a better position to continue serving the students in the fall. It's tough not having a school calendar that aligns with the students on the coast because my summer ends several weeks before theirs requiring me to leave in the middle of the work. I don't like leaving a job unfinished, but I'm also looking forward to getting back to my own classroom.