Tony Ryals is a First Year Teaching Fellow at the Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Roxbury, MA. He is an alumni of the University of Toledo, Class of '10. I remember walking across the stage at Savage Arena and anxiously thinking, what will I do now? I made the commitment to do something that is bigger and better than myself. I decided to join the Citizen Schools Teaching Fellowship and to work towards the bettering of our future generations!
My experience with Citizen Schools has been a truly great one.
The program propels students to do more both inside and outside of the classroom. The job propels the teachers to make the most of each day.
I have learned patience and understanding for students who may not have been exposed to the positive side of education. I work at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School, which is a turnaround school in its second year. I work with 8th graders in 8th Grade Academy (8GA) and I am given the unique opportunity to help these students apply for high schools in the Boston area. High school is a huge milestone, especially for my team, considering that more than half of my students have been at Orchard Gardens since kindergarten!
I've seen students accepted in to many great high schools. The look of accomplishment that transforms their faces and body language, is priceless.
It takes time to build trust and a conducive learning environment with your students and you must build positive relationships all the while maintaining your teacher presence. I will say that this all took time for me to figure out, but Citizen Schools helped me every step of the way.
I did not receive my degree in Education, like many other Teaching Fellows so don’t let that discourage you in any way. You are trained throughout the summer and school year to ensure that you are being an effective teacher and mentor. You build great relationships with your cohort and are able to exchange feedback and ideas with your cohort members around the network.
The Fellowship teaches time management, organization and allows you to have morning partnerships with your school guidance counselor, teachers, work for the regional or state team or even work as a partner with the community or with companies such as Google, Bank of America and local law firms. This program will expose you to many great opportunities for personal and professional growth. I am glad I made this choice after college and you will be too.
Make the commitment, make a difference!