My kiddos are so young, but they are already accomplishing so much. I have students with dreams of becoming surgeons. I have students writing grants. I have students who can play multiple instruments. I have students with more dreams than their minds can organize. My experiences these past 8ish months have taught me how to dream again. I may not know whether dancing, engineering, or teaching is the dream, but I have begun to listen to the sound of hope again.
Elizabeth Musco is a recent graduate from the University of Dayton with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. She heard about DVUSA at the Beyond UD fair, and she immediately felt connected. Elizabeth is currently living in Redwood City, CA and working at the St. Francis Center, Holy Family School, and Siena Youth Center.
“I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This quote comes from Jeremiah 29:11, and while the message is highly relevant since I am now over half completed with my year, it isn’t the reason I chose to use it.
These past 8ish months have given me opportunities to wear many different hats including 3D printing instructor, adult ESL tutor, PE teacher, girls STEM club leader, and IT support, to name a few. These many, different roles keep every week, day, and even hour entertaining, but when asked to write a blog post, that’s where the trouble lies. My mind couldn’t narrow down my experience even a little, and there is no way I can write about it all. This is how the quote introduction came to be.
For context, I am at the Siena Youth Center watching over my kiddos in the after-school program. At my table are a few of my 8th graders, Ryan and Diana (they insisted they get recognition) who were enjoying some cookies out of goodie bags donated to the center. In each cookie bag, there is a quote from the Bible that is meant to provide encouragement to our kiddos. While I am stressing and trying to figure out what to write about for this blog post, Ryan states he has the perfect solution, and then he proceeds to hand me his quote card that contains the above quote. With no other way for me to narrow down my experience, I took an 8th grader’s advice.
Ryan intended for this to be sarcastic, and I did laugh at first. The more I thought about it though, the quote was reminding me why I am so passionate about education and my students. St. Francis Center and Siena Youth Center are located in a community of economically disadvantaged families. Almost all of my students’ parents speak little to no English and therefore cannot provide academic support at home. I have kiddos who cannot recognize the letters of the alphabet, and middle schoolers who cannot add without their fingers. I get the opportunity to help them with their homework and I will never get enough of witnessing the “aha” moment.
My love for the kiddos goes beyond homework. My students love to tease me by saying “Coach Elizabeth, you have TWO bachelor degrees. One of them is engineering. Why are you here?!” My response: Because I love you guys, and some experiences are worth more than a paycheck.
They tease me daily, but they also never fail to make me feel special. I come into work and am greeted with hugs and exciting stories. I get to be one of the first ones they show their report card to. These students make me smile and laugh. Like the laughter that leaves you thinking you are getting abs. I have drawings and notes and black cat socks from my students. One of my most cherished gifts is a notecard that says “I love you, Coach Elizabeth” and when delivering it, my student said “I really mean it.” And one of the best things a student has told me is that I was considered for his Confirmation sponsor.
I hope my kids never question their value and their futures. “I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” could very well be a quote from me to my kiddos, but I am not that eloquent. I am glad the cookies got my back.
Just as much as I want to believe I am helping my students, I know they are helping me that much more. They give me hope and confidence. They make me feel appreciated and loved. My kiddos are so young, but they are already accomplishing so much. I have students with dreams of becoming surgeons. I have students writing grants. I have students who can play multiple instruments. I have students with more dreams than their minds can organize. My experiences these past 8ish months have taught me how to dream again. I may not know whether dancing, engineering, or teaching is the dream, but I have begun to listen to the sound of hope again.
I do not know for certain where I am going after this experience, but I do know the people and memories from this past year have found their way permanently in my heart and will follow me everywhere.