Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Start of the New Year!

Adams City YESS Program is back in session! And with new leadership! My name is Erica Castro and I served at Adams City High School last year as an Americorps Colorado Youth for a Change member serving students with drop-out intervention and emotional resource services.

I am so happy to back as a familiar face in my new role as a teacher here as I have waited for the day I get to be in front of a classroom for a very long time. I am passionate about the social-emotional curriculum belonging to YESS and my enthusiasm in the classroom shows it as I am excited to spice things up this year.

We have been working on creating trust within our classroom community by engaging in "get to know you activities" and diving into the beginning stages of the YESS curriculum. Last week we also took this opportunity in history to discuss a topic that effects 95% of my student body, the topic of discrimination and the current events surrounding that issue.

We discussed the events that took place in Charlottesville recently, including the victim of deadly violence, Heather Heyer. The conversation could have gone many ways but we were careful to focus on the effects of discrimination and racism using resources based off of Courageous Conversations lectures. We also learned about the importance of equality, inclusiveness, and compassion. The end assignment was to write a letter, which I plan on mailing to the foundation, to Heather Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, who we all saw speak at the Video Music Award's (a MTV music show the kids are into) about the importance of what Heather Heyer died for; equality for all and justice for the marginalized. As someone who serves a student body made up primarily young people of color, I felt that it was imperative to teach them that there are people out there fighting for them and for the greater good of all. And most importantly, how crucial it is to stand up for what is right in their own lives. Here is what a few them had to say to Ms. Susan about what we learned that day:

As of this week we have been focusing on more trust building and identity exploring activities. We will continue to go through the yarn toss exercise where we share out our favorite memories and recall every one else's favorite memories, we have touched on how we are all in one web as a community unit standing in solidarity with one another and discussed how when one person lets go the strength of our web weakens.

Later in the week we will be creating Identity Tattoos. I took the Coat of Arms lesson and changed it to fit the interests of my student demographic, they will be creating designs that represent their core being and the activities, interests, and people important to them.

With the current DACA headlines currently flowing through the media, it is important to me to address their anxieties and have their voices be heard as well as provide them with facts and comfort so I will be taking a portion of the end of the week's lessons to do so using a document created by The Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

I have had a great start to my year here with these kids and I am loving every day I get to serve them in this capacity as this is truly my dream job. 

Many more class updates to come!

Until next time,
Ms. Castro

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