Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Lorelle Schaub is the Operations Coordinator for Citizen Schools New Mexico

“Teamwork makes the dream work” - a colleague of mine shared this with me one day, as she often hears her favorite conductor announcing it on the T in Boston. It has become somewhat of a tagline, a #hashtag (if you will) for a group of us here at Citizen Schools, it seems so simple, and couldn’t be truer for working at Citizen Schools.

I have been on teams for most of my life. From the day I tried out for basketball in the 6th grade to the moment I graduated The University of Connecticut (GO HUSKIES!!!). The time came where I could no longer identify myself as a “student athlete” and spandex and kneepads were no longer a part of my daily wardrobe.  As I began the Fellowship in 2009, I was also coping with this concept of being a “civilian”. What was I to do?! No coaches, no practice, no issued gear! The teammates I had counted on for years were now in Chicago, North Carolina, DC, Connecticut, Atlanta, and I was all alone in New Mexico. Looking back, how naïve I was.

I came to Citizen Schools and traded coaches for Campus Directors, early morning work outs for full time team meetings, late night study hall turned into late night lesson planning, and teammates were traded for fellow Teaching Fellows. Some of my best memories from the fellowship come from colleagues, whether it was Karaoke in Austin (I’m looking at you WCPIC Class of 2010), scavenger hunts around Santa Fe for someone’s birthday (I didn’t mean to drop your cake, Danielle), watching first years “jump and jive” (a game that forces people to dance in hilarious ways) in a hotel conference room in Houston, or destroying the students in the Staff vs. Students basketball game.

It was in my second year that it dawned on me, I now had another team to rely on. I had a rowdy bunch of students my second year and we often had to reestablish classroom expectations. An incident had happened where we were debriefing about what it means to be a team. I shared examples of how my team was in college, and how we always had each other’s backs. I then began to share that how being on a team meant helping each other out. I told them how our “staff team” sometimes had to do things for each other. One day it might be coming in early to help make visuals, and other days it might be putting our tasks aside to help with an event. As I explained all the support we provided each other, I realized “Team De Vargas” wasn’t just Citizen Schools lingo, we really were a team.

In college I couldn’t win a point, game or match without my teammates. In Citizen Schools I couldn’t reform education, I couldn’t impact students, and I couldn’t build community without my colleagues. My time in the fellowship is over, and I spend my days coordinating operations for the New Mexico office. #teamworkmakesthedreamwork still holds true as much today as has it my whole.

When were you surprised to find that #teamworkmakesthedreamwork? 

7 Reasons To Become a Teaching Fellow

 Beth Hannon is a former Teaching Fellow (2007-09) and is now a National Recruitment Manager

1. The Achievement Gap is wide, but you alone can help close it

By 4th grade, African-American and Latino students are, on average, nearly three academic years behind their white peers. As a Teaching Fellow you can work with middle school students in hands-on projects that accelerate their basic understanding of core subject areas. Trust me, they will listen to you if you tell them that fractions are cool.

2.Laughter is good for your health

I can think of multiple times where tears were actually streaming down my face. The kids’ humor, their ability to surprise you, and the funny situations you get in as a first-time educator make laughter essential medicine for your fellowship experience.

3. Project management can’t be taught in a college classroom

They’ve written books from the comfort of offices, but no expert has ever had the intense, front-line, “boot camp”, experience of the fellowship. Learn, first hand, how tools and skills in project management, lesson planning, and academic coaching can only be mastered with practice.

4. Your roller skates need to be dusted off

Seriously, when was the last time you had a valid reason to go roller skating?

5.What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

Middle school youth will rock you to the core. If they don’t break you, they will respond to your style and love you. There’s no greater joy than building lasting relationships with students and helping them see their amazing potential.

6. Everyone needs a Jaquon in their life

My first month on the job was tough – I didn’t know what I was doing. Then, Jaquon walked into my office. “Hey! Are you Ms. B?” They were the words that changed my life. Jaquon moved to Austin, TX after Katrina. Alone, scared, and getting bullied for his accent, Jaquon had heard about Citizen Schools – a program that builds leadership and teamwork. He wanted to be part of a team. 5 years later, I still visit Jaquon and talk to him regularly. He’s become a caring, smart, and entrepreneurial young sophomore and his future is bright.

7. Being agents of change requires a strong, resilient team

Jane Addams once said, “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” Education is the common fabric of our societies. Changing education will take a movement. The team is ready, we’ve assembled. Will you join us and secure the very best education for the youth of our future?

Apply for the Teaching Fellowship here. If you have any questions about the Fellowship experience ask in the comments section!