So you're an ambitious, adventurous college senior about to set out on a path to career success. As you consider the The National Teaching Fellowship, consider this: Citizen Schools operates in eight unique states. This is the second of a regional series to profile each of our locations. This installment: Houston.
1. Belt Buckles go out on the town.
The Teaching Fellowship is a rewarding and challenging experience. In addition to teaching middle schools students, Fellows must also learn how to live on a stipend. Although all Teaching Fellows quickly learn to budget grocery bills and eating out, our Texas Fellows find a bigger value in their culinary options.
According to Kat White, “Texas cuisine is a mash up and has a well-deserved reputation for being mind-blowingly, belt-busting-ly good.” Barbeque, Tex-Mex, Soul Food, Cajun, Creole, and of course, steaks are traditional favorites.
Because the cost of living in Houston is lower than other Citizen Schools regions, Fellows can be found enjoying inexpensive restaurant meals in outdoor seating. And true to the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” Fellows take the rest of their huge portions home for an addition meal.
2. Belt buckles sparkle in the sunshine.
Citizen Schools utilizes the community to help students shine their inner lights and passions. In addition to becoming part of the national community of AmeriCorps members, Teaching Fellows quickly become part of local outings offered in their city's spaces.
Kat White adds that Houston’s warmer weather allows green space lovers to thrive. Because of the affordable cost of living, residents may have a greater chance of having a backyard, porch, or garden at their houses. Fellows and staff head to Houston’s downtown park, Discovery Green, which offers everything from free classes of Zumba and Yoga, outdoor movies with live music soundtracks, and lawn games.
If you’re like first-year Teaching Fellow Christina Cooley, you might even join an intramural sports kickball league, or run along the Buffalo Bayou trail. Native Texan Alicia Vasquez also suggests the Miller Outdoor Theatre for concerts. After such busy and long days in the classroom, both first-year fellows recommend a donation-based Yoga studio.
3. Belt Buckles go with all outfits.
Since 1995, Citizen Schools has been re-imagining the learning day to bring more time, volunteers, and relevant learning to middle-school students in low-income neighborhoods. By getting citizens into the classroom, we’re closing the achievement and opportunity gaps and increasing student access to opportunity.
With different Texas constituents gathering in the classroom bringing their personal cultural experiences, it’s no surprise that Houston is the most diverse city in the country. Houston is also home to education reform partner KIPP, and hosts major players such as Teach for America, Yes Prep, Harmony Schools, Education Pioneers, Breakthrough Collaborative, Stand for Children, and more.
4. Belt buckles are travel sized.
Citizen Schools has grown from a Boston program to one that serves in eight states. We hit the road to expand to Chicago this year, and if you live in Houston, you’ll be hitting the road too and taking that belt buckle for a drive.
A car is important to have when living in Texas. Although there may be traffic, Christina Cooley suggests additional adventures to Austin, College Station, Waco, Dallas, and San Antonio being worth the drive. Such destinations feature a favorite pastime of fellows and staff: sitting in an inner tube, floating down a river. If inner tubes and rivers are not your scene, other fun festivals recommended by fellows include the GatorFest (dedicated to Gators) and the Renaissance Fair.
Regardless of your style preferences, keep your mind open to belt buckles and Houston as a region to serve as a National Teaching Fellow. The next application deadline is December 3rd. Don't wait to purchase a new belt buckle and make Houston your new stomping ground. Apply today.