Marist, Boston and Denver; What an April to Remember!

This past April was one hell of a month. After surviving my first official graduate school residency at Seton Hall during the first weekend, I was looking forward to going to Boston with the East Side High School Student Council on the 11th and 12th. This was my third overnight trip with the group, and, having had incredibly moving experiences the first two times around, I was extremely excited about this one.

With the East Side High School Student Council
at Harvard University

In two days, we were able to visit four schools: Harvard, Boston College, Northeastern and Boston University. As was the case with previous trips, it was such an empowering weekend. Although I had a lot of great dialogue with the students during our two day venture throughout Boston, three specific conversations stick out: The first was at BC, when we were eating lunch. I was sitting across from a senior who recently moved to the United States from Ecuador seven months ago. We talked about the concept of poverty being relative, and how he plans to navigate going to college over the course of the next couple of years. Afterwards, on the “T” from BC to the North End, I had another great conversation with a sophomore that I often describe as having “unlimited potential.” We talked about college and what it takes to be successful, and ended with discussing possible college visits for the summer. This kid is only a sophomore and he has already seen more than two-dozen major universities! He is also very intellectually and emotionally mature; to be honest, he reminds me a lot of myself when I was in high school. I think he is going to be very successful one day.
A fantastic presentation about the admissions process to the
ESHS Student Council at Boston College 
The following morning, on the way home, I had such a powerful conversation with a group of students about changing the image of East Side and Newark in general. They were explaining some of the ideas they had to make their school a better place through different events and activities. For me, this resonated well with what Arne Duncan said recently: “Students are today’s leaders. Your voice and recommendations to re-imagine our school experience is vital.” I think we as a society discount the opinion of students far too often, and if we really want to make our education system the cream of the crop again, we must empower students and give them some autonomy to make a difference. Regardless, I genuinely enjoy chaperoning these trips so much, although I sometimes do feel a bit bad; I often feel that I learn way more from these amazing kids than I could ever teach them in a million years.
At the 2013 NCTM National Conference in Denver
The following week, my friend (who happens to be my boss) and I went to Denver, Colorado for the 2013 NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) National Conference. What another great trip! We did so much in the five days we were there, as we ate at many fantastic restaurants (including Sam’s No. 3, Osteria Marco and Vesta Dipping Grill), saw a great deal of sites (including the DaVinci Museum, the state capital of Colorado and the 16thstreet mall) and had plenty of exotic food (including rattlesnake and raw kangaroo!). The conference itself was inspirational and moving, and gave me many great resources and ideas to implement in my classroom. It was great to network with teachers from all different types of schools all across the country. Some highlights of the conference include a Harvard Professor lecturing about the concept of fixed vs. growth mindsets, and Dan Meyer’s (author of the well-known “Math Class Needs a Makeover” TED talk) presentation on perplexity. We also planned it out so that we could attend two sporting events before we left, as we got to see the Avs play at the Pepsi Center and the Rockies play at Coors Field. I would be remiss if I did not mention that we got to see the Lawlor family-which was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip.

With Mike and the Lawlor family at Coors Field

As April drew to a close, I visited my beloved Marist in Poughkeepsie for one last weekend before the end of the academic year. As with high school, I am sure that the longer I am out of college, the less it will feel like home. But as of right now, I sure do miss Marist College. After catching up with a bunch of friends, we went to Darby’s, had some Irish Nacho’s and wings, and had a load of great laughs along the way. As I said goodbye to all of my friends, I reminded them to enjoy “their last three weeks at the best place in the world.” I think that sums up my feelings about my alma mater pretty well.

And that was the end of a crazy month that I will remember for a long time. I now officially have less than eight weeks before my first year of teaching is under my belt. It has been a great run, but I am still wondering: Where has the time gone?

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