2012: A Year in Review

     For me, 2012 was a huge transition year. I finished an amazing four years at my beloved alma mater, Marist College, and started my teaching career in Newark, New Jersey. 2012 was full of ups and downs, and had many adventures along the way. So here is my personal review of 2012:
Marist Graduation
     2012 started out for me in Boston, hanging out with Dylan, Josh and Garrin. It was the first time that I was in a city to celebrate the New Year, and I think we did it right: After walking around Boston and watching a Chinese parade, we ate at the Salty Pig (which I highly recommend) and counted down the end of 2011 in Copley Square with a few thousand other people. It was a great way to start such a great year.
With my fabulous SGA team at President Murray’s annual SGA  dinner. 
     In January, Marist mourned the loss of three members of the Marist community in a terrible off-campus fire. It was a sad week and a tough time for everyone in such a tight-knit community. We held a memorial service for Kerry Fitzsimmons, Eva Block and Kevin Johnson, and I will never forget the lines of Professor Sand uttering the words, “Kevin, Kevin, Kevin; skateboard into heaven.” Chills fire down my back just thinking about it.

     At the end of January, in stark contrast to the first two weeks of the semester, I received some great news: I was accepted into Teach For America. From their website, Teach For America (TFA) “is a national teacher corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to teach and to effect change in under-resourced urban and rural public schools.” I was one of the lucky 17% of the over 34,000 people that applied to Teach For America in 2012. I was placed in Newark, NJ, and although I was a little disappointed at the time, I couldn’t be happier to be teaching in Newark right now. I accepted the offer within three days, and I had a full-time job lined up four months before graduation.
In NYC for a taping of an upcoming Demetri Martin special
     In February, I was student teaching at Marlboro High Schoolin Marlboro, New York with Mr. Koonz. I taught 9th grade algebra and college algebra (mostly juniors and seniors). After working for seven weeks in a high school, I student taught at Wappinger’s Junior High School under Mrs. Knight (a Marist alumna), teaching 7th grade math. One of my favorite classes was the last period of the day, which made me laugh many times about “bomb shelter drills” and other middle school jokes. At first I thought I was going to hate teaching middle school, but I loved it so much.
With one of my 7th Grade classes at Wappingers JHS
     In March, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to fly down with the Women’s Basketball team to Florida for the NCAA tournament during Spring Break. Since we needed to get there a few days early, I took advantage of the time and explored Tallahassee and Florida State University. To say that we had a blast would be an understatement. I will never forget all of the fun adventures we had walking around the FSU campus, meeting up with their SGA leaders, and going to our favorite spot in town, Tomahawks. We won the first game, upsetting 4th-seeded Georgia, in one of the best basketball games I have ever seen. 
Cheering on our Red Foxes in Tallahassee 
     April capped off a great run I had as Student Body President, which concluded with a beautiful transition dinner in the Cabaret of Marist College. I gave what I thought was a fitting outgoing address that discussed the notion of making a difference, something I am very passionate about.  And what felt like just a short few weeks later, I graduated from Marist. Looking back on my college career, I feel as though I took advantage of every opportunity I had at Marist, and I loved almost every single second of college.
Before the Transition Dinner with Josh, Dylan, Ferg, Rob, Jeff and Nick
     Then, the summer came, which came and went so fast. After a few weeks off, I headed off to TFA training, called “Institute” (or “Boot Camp,” as we liked to call it) first at Rutgers-Newark for a week, then at St. John’s University in Queens, NY. It is during this summer that I first worked in an inner city, teaching summer school to 9th graders at St. Hope Leadership Academy in Harlem, New York. During all of this learning and teaching, I somehow found time to visit a lot of my friends (Josh, Rob, Kassie, Nick, Ferg and Emily), who were all leaving to study abroad for the semester. I truly had a great experience in Harlem, and was surrounded by a great group of teachers that helped make the summer so memorable.
The famous “bus crew,” Eli, Ryan, myself and Honore
     After six weeks of getting up at 5:00am every single day, I literally had no time off: The day after Institute was over, I moved into my first apartment in Newark, New Jersey. Located in the Ironbound section (East Ward) of Newark, I really enjoy the area, having a lot of Portuguese, Brazilian and Central American influence. The people are so friendly, there are always families walking around the neighborhood, and soccer is followed like a cult here. Oh, and did I mention that there are so many amazing restaurants around that are out of this world? Oh well for losing some weight…
Volunteering at a Foster Home in Newark
     In September, I was excited to start teaching at my placement school, East Side High School, which is only a short walk from my apartment. After cleaning my classroom like crazy, it was great to meet my students and co-workers for the first time. My first semester definitely had its ups and downs, but I love working at East Side so much. (For a full overview of my first semester, read my post on it here)
Visiting Columbia University with Brian and Meaghan 
     October 2012 will always be remembered as the month Hurricane Sandy hit landfall, causing billions of dollars worth of damage. While Newark lost power for about a week, we were very fortunate compared to some of the other harder-hit areas that suffered much more damage. I will never forget walking around the streets and seeing so many people having impromptu street fairs, cooking all of their frozen meat before it went bad. It was great seeing so many people make the best out of a bad situation-something that I think more people need to do. Also in October, I had the absolute privilege of going to Washington, D.C. with the East Side High School Student Council. It was such a powerful weekend seeing so many kids from Newark interested in college. 

     November was one of my favorite months, as it was the first time I went to Europe. Going to Italy was, hands-down, one of the best experiences I have ever had in my entire life. I would definitely check out my full post I put up about Italy, which can be found here.

     And then December came and went, and it was gone before I knew it. My half brother Steve and his family moved to New York from Arizona in October, and it was great having my four-year-old niece Bella and her seven-month-old brother Vinny around for the holidays. After seeing the Christmas Spectacularin New York City, I spent a few days up in Boston and Albany before ringing in the New Year.

      And so that was my 2012. Looking back, it was such a great year, and it is kind of hard to believe that it is 2013 already. As John Lennon would say, “Another year over, a new one just begun.” Here’s to 2013!

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