I'm going to ignore the mostly dull training sessions that we've had over the last few days and focus on what was easily the week's highlight: visiting PS 333/335 for the first time.
We had our first of what will be many 7:45 AM meetups. After waiting for some lost team members to find their way, we walked into the school and into the lion's den of an elementary school cafeteria. A new CY program this year is called "Morning Greeting," which allows us to devise a way of saying hello to as many students as possible before class begins each day. Some teams are stationing people outside the front doors to do this as students enter, but we're trying the strategy of roaming the cafeteria looking for kids to talk with.
CY worked in this same school last year, and our team leader had been a corps member then. Many kids recognized her, and saw our logo shirts. Thus began the chorus of "hey, City Year!" Everyone wanted to talk to us. Looks like last year's team succeeded in making an impression. This might be a tough act to follow.
Around 8:15, we joined the students for a morning assembly, where we are all introduced. There was some rowdiness, but nothing beyond what I've seen before from 4th/5th graders. This was our first encounter with the principal, Mr. Wright, who definitely seems to command the attention and respect of his students. We heard about new ambitious goals for the school's reading program, and how students could earn prizes through good behavior. In fact, our next task of he day was setting up the StarBucks store, where student can redeem behavior credit for rewards. If they're a perfect little angel, they might even get a bike.
In a meeting later, we got to hear a lot about the school's reading program. I'd explain it, but I was running on four hours or so of sleep, and I suspect our entire team will need a refresher next week. This job is going to reignite my caffeine addiction from college. I did gather that the program is designed to see how much students are actually learning and how much they're just memorizing.
We have another day at the school on Monday, where we'll be spending some time with the younger kids and meeting more teachers. We may finally get to sit in on a class and see how things are run in there. This is all buliding up to October 5, which is our first official day of service in schools. The day's approaching rather quickly. Hard to believe that a month ago I was impatient for CY to hurry up and begin.
Next up: the Starfish Corps. Stay tuned.