Create a Vision for BCPSS Students
Organized by: Samantha Hutchins
My name is Samantha Hutchins and I work to support teachers and students in Baltimore City Public Schools. This is my fifth year working in the city and I have learned that in order for a service provider to become productive in this setting, it is necessary to become semi-desensitized to the surroundings; yet, it is never fully possible to let your surroundings elude you. Just as I was beginning to think that there was nothing else that could shock me, a little boy changed my perspective in less than five minutes. Each day that I stay late after school to work in my office, one of my former students comes to visit me and to say hello, since they are a part of the after-school program. He will usually try to sneak up and surprise me when I least expect it, my startled reaction always amusing him. Today, he brought one of his friends with him, another scholar attending our school, who I had yet to meet. After I had escaped my normal silly reaction, his friend looked at me very seriously, and says, "I bet you go to the beach a lot?" I had no idea how much meaning this question possessed. We exchanged the following dialogue: Me: "I go to the beach sometimes. Why do you think I'm tan?" Student: "No, you just look like one of those people on TV who go to the beach all the time." Student: "Look at your kids all happy sitting there on the grass." (Referring to a photo of my nephew and daughter) Me: "I'm not sure what you mean, but yes, I like to go to the beach." Student: "Yeah. I just mean you're one of those people who lives in a nice community, where there are trampolines. You probably have a basketball court." I started to feel shocked, and for once didn't know what to say. With complete innocence and honesty he was speaking the rawest words that I've ever heard. Me: "Yes, I do enjoy going to the beach. I guess my neighbors do have a trampoline, and we have a basketball court down the street." Student: "I knew you were one of those people who go to the beach a lot" Me: "What grade are you in, I'm not sure that I've seen you before." Student: "I've seen you. I'm in the fourth." I felt chilled by his words. Everything I had ever done in city schools seemed pointless. I have been delivering academic content to children and trying to bring purpose to their work by advertising their potential future college or career choice, and overall happiness. He made me understand that the idea of having even middle-class success seems unattainable, maybe fictional to many of the students to whom we cater. I began to translate the message, "I bet you go to the beach a lot" to myself. It felt as if, in some sort of encrypted language, he was saying, "You are one of those people who was born with privilege: You live in a safe neighborhood, with fun activities, and you get to enjoy simple pleasures. This was going to happen to you if you tried or not." And furthermore, "You don't even realize how special it is." This student has helped me to embody my vision, has given me purpose to renew my contract for years to come, and has given me a mission. Not only do I want to ensure that BCPSS students recieve a quality education; I want to show them that life's simple pleasures are attainable. The "No Child Left Behind Act" has negatively impacted students in urban settings, by prioritizing the allocation of funds to the more affluent schools. I would like for BCPSS teachers to be able to create vision boards with students. I want them to be able to give students a visual representation of where they can go through actual and virtual field trips, as well as from listening to key note speakers. From my experience, I have seen that there are teachers who have so much to offer to city school students, yet they are provided with limited resources. Now that the vision of my mission has been redefined, I want to help city school scholars develop a growth mindset and the ability to envision their potential. At my school, there are currently teachers who lack the basic resources to complete tasks as simple as using a projector, due to the fact that the bulbs are broken. By donating to this cause, you will provide four classrooms with modern-day technology and impact the lives of city school scholars, by helping them to compete in a global society. I want all students to see that, with effort, they too, are able to "go to the beach."