Bienvenidos to Summer School!

It feels good to be back in Gettysburg to begin my Heston Internship with the Migrant Education Program.  After flying back from my incredible two weeks in Trinidad on Sunday night and driving six hours to Gettysburg on Monday, my Heston experience started with moving into my room and the potluck dinner at Painted Turtle Farm Monday night.  It was really great to see the community get together and share some really great food.  Tuesday through Friday were in-service days in Biglerville, with training, orientation, and preparation of the classrooms.  I will be the assistant to the teacher in the higher education class (grades 10-12) for the three and a half week program serving migrant children, former migrant children, and English language learners in the Adams County area.  As of right now, we have 30 kids registered for our class!

The higher education class does less class work and more field trips, exploring the area to see the possibilities these children have for their futures with education and careers.  We’ve begun reaching out to different organizations and colleges and hope to have a packed schedule for the children.  A big chunk of this week has been preparing and decorating the classroom, primarily changing the desks in this elementary classroom to fit the growing teenagers we will have next week and arranging the 30 desks to somehow fit in the room.

The end of the week was filled with lesson planning, mapping out our schedule for the first week.  For the summer program, and especially with the higher education group, there is really no set curriculum other than incorporating language arts and mathematics daily.  It was really interesting to see how difficult it was for some teachers, many who have been teaching in public schools for 10 or 15 years, have this flexibility of teaching after being used to being so restricted, having to follow such rigid state mandated guidelines.  After a day or so though, the creative ideas began coming in and it was really neat to hear the different lesson plans that the other teachers have, such as the fifth graders doing a lesson on perimeter and going outside to measure the soccer field with yard sticks for a fun, hands-on activity.  This type of fun activity will be much more impactful than doing worksheets in the classroom, yet the latter is what is primarily done in our schools today. 

With the World Cup happening, and the majority of the students coming from Mexico or other Latin America countries where soccer is a large part of the culture, the World Cup and soccer is trying to be incorporated in as much as possible, as well as earth, wind, and fire, this year’s theme.  The higher education class has decorated the doorway with “Welcome” in all the countries’ official languages who are playing in the World Cup.  The first day will then be filled with introductions, ice breakers, and a fun activity where the students learn all the countries playing in the World Cup, the language(s) spoken there, and what “welcome” is in that language.  Although I’m a little nervous about not knowing what to expect next week, I am really looking forward to meeting my kids and to finally put a face to the names we have had all week!

Erin O’Connor