2021 Week 2: Education & Youth Advocacy


This week I started working in person at my work site, attending meetings throughout the week in preparation for the start of the summer program. It was definitely awkward for me since I’m new to the team, but the staff welcomed me and have even offered me career advice and tips on being an elementary school teacher. In one of my meetings on Wednesday I introduced myself as “just an intern” and the staff definitely told me off :’D… “You’re not JUST an intern” is what they told me, and that surely made an impression on me.

They have also been very understanding. This weekend my partner and I were traveling when our car overheated and caught fire (we’re fine!), but we wouldn’t have a new car until Monday afternoon. The coordinators at Calvin Rodwell were understanding if I were to arrive slightly late taking the bus and even offered to pick me up from home if I didn’t want to take the bus. My initial concern was not feeling like I would be part of the school community, especially since I’m only there temporarily. But I think I’ll greatly enjoy my time there and even come back to volunteer throughout the year until I move after graduation.

I attended attendance meetings where the committee worked to implement ways to bolster attendance for the upcoming academic year after seeing record absenteeism in the past year. There were a lot of grievances members of the committee expresses regarding teachers not properly inputting attendance, parents picking up their kids early despite the rule against it, kids not coming to school simply because they don’t want to, and out-of-zone students being allowed to register since the city public schools office does not adhere to their own policy. I wanted to approach the issue more holistically, knowing that the reasons for students not coming to school are complex, and offered ideas that would emphasize enrichment which would influence to come to school.


My second week at Dent has by far been the most rigorous so far. I anticipated, due to the extension of hours with Staff Onboarding plus the additional hours of Fellow Onboarding (my official role at Dent), that my third week would be a lot different than the following two. My expectations were met and then surpassed, as I’d been delegated various tasks during the week. I learned more about Dent’s Mindsets, the routine opening, and closing circles, as well as the new implementation of Wellness programming into the curriculum. I’ve since been moved from the three sites I was initially assigned to, and while I mourned my move from the Design Studio (@ Zia and Kellyn I’ll remember our time fondly <3), I was more than excited to get situated with the Coaches I’ll be assisting as well as meeting my official Site Supporter. The latter is an English teacher at a high school near Homewood campus and also an avid snack enthusiast (did you know that the OG Goldfish flavor is actually a bland blue oyster cracker?). Since I’m a Creative Writing major and a returning Advising Fellow at Matriculate, he’s already asked for some support next fall with his students regarding creative writing exercises and college matriculation advice (yay!). The first couple days of this week consisted mostly of long Zoom sessions and breakout rooms discussing identity, wellness, mental health, and how to be a support network for the high school students who, after a year and a half of Zoom sessions, might be feeling less than excited to continue on with the virtual format. I also bonded with one of the Coaches over our mutual obsession with Hell’s Kitchen.

The second part of the week is really when it picked up. I’d been told to create a signup sheet for the speaker series over the course of programming, which, on the surface, seemed like a very achievable feat in a short period of time. However, I was also tasked with implementing a program called Zapier into our sign up sheet so that Google Calendar invitations were sent out automatically instead of manually, essentially saving myself hours of time with administrative work. It turns out, this was no simple task. For awhile there, I couldn’t help but feel a bit useless and incompetent. The first assignment I was given was taking me hours and hours of reformulating excel docs and testing and retesting the triggers. I’ve prided myself in being adaptable and resilient, yet my inability to navigate Zapier seemed to be proving me wrong. I became frustrated at myself for not getting it right, and embarrassed by my lack of efficiency. Despite the countless hours this week spent on this task, my supervisor has been quick to respond on Slack and eager to schedule meetings where he talks me through navigating the program. And while we spent nearly an hour after work poking and prodding with the program only to end up with nothing, he was very encouraging and kind to me about the whole process. Not once did I feel like I disappointed or annoyed him during our interactions, in fact, he made a point to commend my work during our staff meeting at the end of the week. And while I still haven’t fully understood Zapier (check in in a couple of weeks to see if I conquer the beast), this week, I felt my role at Dent has become solidified and I’m eager to join such an empathetic, passionate, and creative work environment.


Week two has been a lot more hectic and exhausting, but I have also learned so much more than I did the first week and was able to have really meaningful conversations with my coworkers. This week was the Village Learning Place’s orientation for the staff that will be working in the LINK Summer Program. I then spent a lot of my week in Zooms for orientation. Additionally, I staffed a few evenings where we distributed supply bags for the summer. Finally, I was working with the fifth and sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Daniel, to set up our classroom and plan for the next two weeks of in-person class.

I learned this week that I will not be facilitating virtual learning at all this summer. Because of staffing availability and vaccination status, I am needed in the in-person classes so will spend two weeks with each grade-bands (5th/6th, 1st/2nd, 3rd/4th). I feel very mixed about this since teaching virtually would have pushed me to engage with children. But at the same time, I think the in-person time will have a lot more of an impact on the kids since they haven’t been in person for so long. On a selfish note, I am excited to get to go on all of the field trips which sound incredibly fun! At the end of the day, I will make the best out of where I am needed cause that is what will be the most beneficial for the VLP.

In orientation this week, I kept having my mind blown as we discussed different teaching strategies such as using non-evaluative feedback, restorative practices, and the importance of family engagement. Using non-evaluative feedback is the principle of responding to children in a deeper way than giving them blanket affirmation such as “good job.” Instead, we are encouraged to ask the children questions about their work and push them further into thinking about their project and finding affirmation within themselves instead of being dependent on grades and adults for their self-worth. At first, I was very confused by this idea, but thinking of it through the lens of teaching children to find confidence within themselves is revolutionary and would have changed the way that I internalized and tied my self-worth to school. I think doing this in practice will be difficult, I have definitely been taught to be positive and give affirmation, and while I can still do that this idea will hopefully push me to think more deeply about how I engage and how I ask guiding questions to further my students understanding and growth.

Restorative practices are a method to help students resolve conflict and take ownership of their behavior. At its core, these practices are intended to remove the anger and punishment from the situation to better meet the needs of the children involved and work with the kids to come up with solutions and to facilitate conflict resolution. The importance of family engagement surrounds the idea that it’s unfortunate for the families to only have engagement with their child’s teacher when their child is in trouble. This flips the idea on its head to consistently engage with the students’ families to tell them the positives of their child’s behavior and bring them into the classroom (but not during COVID) and engage with their child’s education.

I have heard of these practices of restorative practices and family engagement before but just never had them as easily laid out in front of me to understand their importance and how to put them into practice. I am excited to spend the summer honing my teaching skills and working with many teachers to get advice from all of them.

I am not sure what to expect from this week in having students in our classrooms for the first time in over a year and the first time for me. But I am incredibly excited and ready for the challenge but hopefully won’t get too exhausted in the process.


Week 2, between my food presentation and my regular work at Code in the Schools, was super long and super busy. First off, this was the last week before we started with CodeWorks so there was so everyone in the organization was seemingly busy. Getting the tracks together for the students was super challenging as some of them were taking too long to fill out our track selection form. Our equipment team was trying to get laptops to people who were saying they will have laptop issues last minute. Some of us, including myself, was trying to fix orientation handbook and orientation slides so that they made sense to the students and were organized well and looked visually appealing. I also created an orientation opening animation on Canva that I am not even sure if we will use. There was several meetings and differing opinions on how to do certain things but at the end of the week I think we were close enough to being on the same page, which was ok. All the instructors said they feel comfortable with their curriculum to start next week, which was very encouraging. Additionally, at the end of the Friday meeting Marie led us through a breathing exercise that, looking back, helped a lot.

We all want so bad for our program to be perfect and smooth and not have the least amount of hiccups for the students, but we had to remember to breathe too. We’ve all been here before in some way and worked with students and some of us have even helped run CodeWorks before. We will be absolutely fine this upcoming week for starting CodeWorks and I am super excited to work with the students. I am even more sure of this because our connectivity test on Friday with the students was so cool. I saw so many students I recognized from the past year and a lot of them remembered me, which made me happy. It so nice to reflect on all the connections, not just with faculty but with students for CodeWork and I am very content with the work I have done and impact I think I have made so far and I am looking for another fun summer. Aside from CodeWorks, it was exhausting but cool to run the week 2 presentation on Food in Baltimore. I absolutely loved the conversations each session had on the language we use regarding food access in Baltimore and I think/hope my presentation has a lasting impact on the people that viewed it in some way.


I had always understood the internship experience as one in which your employer can throw anything at you. Sometimes they’ll give you a big project to lead, other times it’ll be to sort through spreadsheets, sometimes you’ll be given lots of time to prepare, other times you’ll be told at the last minute what you must do and be expected to do it well. That is the life of the intern.

My first week of the program had been a lot of orientation, attending meetings to observe, and getting to know the staff. All of this excited me. As I transitioned into the second week, ready for action, ready for stuff to be thrown at me, I had both ups and downs. Meetings to attend and work to do came up kind of randomly, especially as they were transitioning from the end of the school year, and since I was waiting around for something to be thrown at me, there were lots of times where I was just waiting and doing nothing. This was especially exasperated by the nature of being virtual because simply throwing a task at me also required getting me access to the right documents and the right people to contact, so every new task was a process. I was hesitant to reach out to connect with my supervisor. The team I work with is small, but mighty, powerhouse and is constantly doing work with tons of other departments and partners. I did not want to be the annoying person that was constantly messaging for work to do, creating more work for others to try to reallocate tasks.

On Tuesday of this week, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I would be leading a meeting. A meeting that would be starting in forty-five minutes. I love leading meetings, but I was nervous because I was new to the material still and did not have much time to prepare. The meeting, while it had its bumps, was a success. I felt that I was able to lead an effective discussion that left me invigorated and excited for the next meeting, which I would also be leading. I felt that things were looking up, that I was finally getting the true intern experience. But as my time quickly turned to the waiting game again, I decided to just trust my gut on all of the excitement and ideas from my previous meeting and just go for it. I messaged my supervisor to see if there was anything I could support them with. Suddenly, I had four new meetings scheduled. I was elated. In one of the meetings, I was given the go-ahead to begin working on some of my ideas for the next meeting I would be leading. My supervisor reminded me that I’m an equal member of this team, there is no need to constantly wait for the go-ahead on an idea or task. More likely than not, whatever I roll with would support the team and if it did not, my work will be archived to potentially support another department or a future project. While I’m technically still an intern and a newcomer, still learning through listening and still getting a spreadsheet thrown at me to look through, I’m also part of an encouraging team that is giving me the space to explore. It’s not the stereotype of interning that I had developed in my head. My internship experience is one where I do not have to be waiting around to be told to explore. I can instigate stuff on my own and I can reach out to ask to connect with different people and projects. I’ve now been plugged into more meetings, started tackling my own ideas (and made a spreadsheet I am so proud of I’ll probably frame at the end of the summer), and taking action to create the summer experience that I know will excite me, support others, and give me space to learn.


So Week 2 of working at the Hampden Family Center: I managed to forget my code (which you have to enter under the alarm panel after you unlock the door and enter the building) and set off the building-wide alarm. Luckily there was no one there at the Family Center (which was very odd considering it was 10 AM) so I just called my boss and used his code. Later on in that day, it turns out I hadn’t forgotten my code, but the code given to me wasn’t yet activated into the system, so yay me! Anyways, I had already gotten my weekly assignment, which was to plan on the Olympic Field Day. The IT guy that the HFC hires updated my computer and set up my organization email, so I don’t have to use my personal email for work, also giving me access to the HFC OneDrive, which was very useful with sharing information with my boss. In organizing the Olympic Field Day, I ended up creating an Excel Spreadsheet that I’ve now managed to grow into a database for activities, supplies, and icebreakers for camp. I also better organized my boss’s own spreadsheet where we input information from the campers’ applications. On Wednesday, me and and the HFC staff got together and had a group lunch where I got introduced to someone else I would be working with over the summer: a THREAD intern who had just graduated from college. She’s very experienced working with kids (and she has a car!) so I’m looking forward to learning how should I approach organizing these events, as well as my overall outlook to the next month.

On Friday, me and Catey did a food distribution for the community at around noon. For the next hour, we were able to see some of the people that HFC assists within the community. I had never really gotten a good idea of what HFC actually did to be honest. I guess I had a vague idea, considering I had worked at a Boys and Girls’ Club earlier, so I just assumed that my role would be something similar. However, during the food distribution we were mainly offering, to whoever showed up, premade bags me and Pierre had gotten on the first week. In any case, I can see that HFC not only helps kids, but serves as a pillar for the unfortunate in the Hampden community. Getting to talk to the people at the food distribution made me realize that even a “white neighborhood” such as Hampden has its own version of the overlooked and downtrodden. In St. Croix (the island where I’m from and spent 98% of my life before Hopkins), there is a severe, yet under-discussed mental health / homeless crisis, so working with them has given me some insight into what their lives can be like and what should be done for them. I definitely will keep these experiences in mind for later on in the future.

Interestingly, one of the people I was in a breakout room during orientation worked at the Hampden Family Center in 2020 Spring, and she was able to give me a bit of a rundown of what she did while she was there, and she coincidentally is interning at THREAD this summer (it’s all connected!). Nothing much happened this week besides me working on the Olympic Field Day and the lunch though. Just looking forward to working with the kids come July 6th!

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