As I sat around the table at the De Smet Jesuit ASC residence, eating our homemade meal – pieced together potluck-style by all of us working in St. Louis – I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am. Earlier in the day, one of my fellow ASC volunteers made an observation, “If anybody, without any context, took a look at our lives over the last three weeks, they would think we have the best job on earth.” And a part of me agrees. For the past two weeks we have been professional friends. We hang out, perfect the art of barbecuing, share stories and create memories. Some of us are still more than a week away from the start of school.
But at the same time there has been a sense of unpreparedness. My fellow volunteer, Nic, and I have spent a few hours each day at Loyola Academy. We have met with our principal, learned school policies, and were given a schedule of how our days would look. At the end of each day, Nic and I seem to always have a moment where we say, “What do you think we’ll learn tomorrow?” “Who knows?” There is a humorous side to what we are doing. While we are being trusted to teach students for an entire year, two weeks before school starts we are goofing off and there is some uncertainty.
Because I work for a Jesuit institution, I realize there is a reason behind everything we do. We spent two weeks building community with our fellow volunteers at preparation boot camp. Now, Nic and I have spent the last week building community with our fellow educators at Loyola Academy. And even though the two of us may feel unprepared, we have always felt a sense of pride and confidence instilled in us by our school. It was incredibly humbling and sobering to have our principal thank us, from the depths of his heart, for spending a year with the students at Loyola. No matter how unprepared we feel, we know we have the trust of our schools, our families, and our students.
So sure, maybe we aren’t ready. Maybe we will make a few mistakes. Maybe some of our students won’t like us. However, it is helpful to remember that we have been shown that we have a network of people who love us and believe in us, and we can always fall back on them. Do I know if I will be a great middle school math teacher? No. But I do know that no matter what, I have my community behind me, supporting me, helping me through troubles – and that is the best preparation I could have asked for. And I was absolutely right to realize how lucky I am.