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Not many people can say they truly enjoy the work they do, and sometimes getting up each morning is the worst part of the day. However, I genuinely love going to work and seeing my wonderful students. They bring me so much joy. Here at Amate House, my site partner is the Academy of St. Benedict the African which is located in Englewood. While that might not be the first choice for some teachers, it was for me. I was given the opportunity to be a STEM teacher for Pre-K to 8th-grade students, and I am loving it! 

Here, all the staff members care deeply about the school. I’ve spent the most time with the Aftercare, Kindergarten, and Pre-K teachers, and I must say that they run a tight shift. The rules that they have helped keep the students safe and to keep everything under control. ( The younger ones can be a handful even at their best behavior. ) While I may not be with the preschoolers anymore, I can say that I have made new friends with my fellow teachers. At St. Benedict, teachers support one another. When I need help or have a question, I can find a co-worker and ask for assistance. If I didn’t feel comfortable around them, I would not be able to do that. 

The students here are also some of the nicest, kindest, and the most wholesome group I have ever worked with. Middle-schoolers usually get a bad representation, but the students at St. Benedict are kind and caring. While we did a school-wide trick-or-treating, each 8th grader was buddied with a Preschooler. You could see how much fun both the 8th grader and the Preschooler had together. The older students lookout for the younger ones, even without being told. Where I went for grammar school this wasn’t seen at all. When I visit the preschoolers, I can tell they’re working REALLY hard on whatever their teacher has them doing. If I’m having a rough day, I can always go into a preschool room, and instantly my day will be better. 

Students from Academy of St. Benedict the African School and others participate in a Prayer Walk for Peace in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood on Oct. 21, 2021. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

Here at St. Benedicts, our core belief is that “We are better together!” I can truly feel this everywhere I go. The students always respect the teachers, and the teachers respect the students. Instead of just constantly yelling at the students, I see that teachers work with them to figure out what is going on. Finding the reason behind behavior is more important and beneficial than just reprimanding a student. Sometimes all we need is little help from our friends. We are truly working together to make the school a great place for everyone to be. Everyone is doing their best with the tools that they have.

Here at St. Benedicts, our core belief is that “We are better together!” I can truly feel this everywhere I go. The students always respect the teachers, and the teachers respect the students.

As the year is halfway over, I am already thinking of how sad it will be for me to say goodbye to my students and fellow staff members. I can see everyone’s love for each other every day in the smallest of things, from the little preschoolers being super excited to see me ( or really anyone ) to the middle schoolers joking with each other in the hallway. While this may not be the easiest thing ever, I have overcome each challenge with a smile on my face. At the Academy of St. Benedict the African, I have felt supported, loved, and welcomed by the staff and students. I wouldn’t have done this year any differently 

One Comment

  • Katie DiPiero says:

    Maggie I appreciated reading your write-up! During my Amate House year in 2012, I also worked at ASBA. It changed my life. I mean that! I ended up staying after my service year for another 4 years as a FT job. Working with the staff, teachers, students, and Englewood community is a highlight of my time here in Chicago, and something I will carry forward. I hope you feel the same way, 5 years, 10 years, or more beyond your time with Amate/ASBA. Thank you for your reflection and the opportunity for me to return to my favorite memories of that space.

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