Eye of the Storm

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FisterDunes

“This job isn’t easy,” I said to my dad when I was at my parents’ house for dinner.

“Yeah, James, it’s a job,” he replied.

The man wasn’t kidding. This is my first full-time, not summer job I’ve ever had. And it really is hard! I wake up at 6:30 each morning and, depending on the day, leave for home between 4 and 6. When I get home, I’m usually exhausted. There is just enough time and energy left to chat with my community member (Hi Nic!), eat some dinner, maybe get a quick work out, and go to sleep.

Wash, rinse, and repeat.

Can’t blame a guy for struggling to catch his breath, huh? Only a quarter into the year and I am feeling the grind of the day to day. Loyola follows the Nativity Miguel model for schools, which means we have longer days, feed the kids two and a half meals a day, and offer after-school enrichment and tutoring every day. Therefore, I am so much more than a teacher. I am a coach, a reading instructor, a parent, a motivational speaker, and a lunch lady. Wearing this many hats can be fun, but also tiring. At time I feel like these two months have been a storm at sea. I have learned, however, how to find the eye of the storm.

Even with all the turmoil, the non-stop jaunt that is teaching at Loyola, it is so easy to find those calm, encouraging and touching moments that make it all worth it. Whether it is a positive interaction with a difficult student, a new handshake I learned with an eighth grader, or having another teacher offer to take recess duty, these “eyes of the storms” are certainly out there. These are moments that teach me the true value of what I’m doing. I was lucky enough to have a week long experience like this when I traveled to Camp Miniwanca with the entire student body.

Every year, Loyola travels to Michigan to spend a week at Camp Miniwanca. There, the classes spent four days doing team building exercises, fun outdoor challenges, and experiencing the beauty of God’s creation. Camp leaders facilitate almost all of the activities, which allows the teachers to be active participants in the learning opportunities the students experience. What happened for me was a chance to turn off my teacher persona and be a learner with my students. I was able to laugh and make jokes with middle schoolers, and it was so much fun. A side of me I hadn’t let show came out, and both my students and myself noticed it. I experienced such joy and closeness with my students and staff members, and I realized that those experiences didn’t need to stay at Camp. Now I am back at school, doing the old grind, but I have brought with me a resolve to find the joy in everyday life. It took a week of calm to make me appreciate the storm that can be present at school. Now I’m much more prepared to ride the waves.

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