“It’s very difficult for me to choose a favorite thing about teaching at Reach, because there are so many wonderful aspects of being a part of this community. However, one of the most unique aspects about teaching our Reach scholars is the continuity that we get. As a Spanish teacher at a large school during the school week, I am used to working with students for just a semester, or at most, a full school year. However, with Reach, the fact that students and parents commit to 3 years of Saturday sessions and 3 summer sessions, and the fact that the grade levels are smaller than the ones at the school I work during the week, means that I really can get to know Reach students well. I usually work with the younger two grades, but even when I am no longer their “official” Social Studies teacher in the summer or their “official” ELA teacher on Saturdays, I still get to see and connect with my former students in the hallways of Reach. And, because many students enroll with their siblings, too, it’s possible to start to get to know a whole family! One of the things that is most fun for me is to see how the students grow in confidence and maturity from their times as a 6th grader to a rising 9th grader graduating the program. The students with whom I work currently are halfway through their 7th grade years now. It has been so neat to “loop up” with them since being their teacher in 6th grade, too, since I have gotten to see how much their confidence has grown even over the course of a little over a year.
“This school year, I have also had the lovely surprise of getting to teach a Reach student outside of Reach! Sammy, who I had the chance to teach in Social Studies and ELA when he was a 6th grader and rising 7th grader, is now enrolled in my Spanish class at Decatur High School as a 10th grader! As a student outside of Reach, Sammy shows the characteristics that Reach seeks to foster in its students. He always works ahead, frequently finishing projects and assignments two or even three weeks ahead of the deadline. He is extremely dedicated to mastering content, and if an assessment doesn’t go as well as he would like, he immediately works on making corrections and asking for clarification to ensure that he will improve on future assessments. I can always count on him to volunteer to answer questions (even in front of the whole class), and other teachers at DHS also comment on his responsibility and his willingness to help his peers if they are struggling with a concept that he has mastered. Sammy is known for being unfailingly courteous to all teachers and his classmates, and other teachers have told me that he offers to help out with any errands or class tasks that need to be done, unprompted. Additionally, he still comes back to volunteer with Reach on Saturdays, setting an excellent example that our current Reach scholars can follow.
“It has been such a privilege to have seen Sammy build confidence and leadership skills since he was a 6th grader to his current age as a 10th grader. I know that he will keep shining and excelling in the future, too. It has also been so fun to be able to tell my co-workers more about Reach and be able to use Sammy as an example of the conduct and intellectual development that the program seeks to foster in its students.”