Teaching, Loving, and Learning - The Perspective of Two Interns
Eight weeks of teaching, loving, and learning, as told from the perspectives of two teaching interns.
My three favorite things in the entire world are Jesus, kids, and Spanish. So, this summer is like a dream, right?! I came here wide-eyed and thrilled to be a teacher at the School of Hope. However, I have been continually blown away and humbled; being a teacher here has exceeded anything I could have ever dreamed of. Imagine walking to and from school every day with two of the most amazing people you have ever met. Then, imagine teaching alongside the kindest, most easy-going and talented teacher you have ever seen. AND then, imagine teaching the best kids in the world (a little biased, but it’s true). I want to be a teacher in general and have met hundreds of kids that I adore and love. However, it is hard to put into words how these sweet, smart, energetic kinder and parvulos make my heart want to explode. They are joyful in a way that radiates pure sunshine. They are patient and grace-giving with others and with me. I love them so much it kind of hurts.
There are a million teacher blogs or inspirational quotes about how loving adults can help children. However, it is SO downplayed how much kids teach us if we humble ourselves enough to let them. I have learned so much about the Lord, about joy and life in general from laughing with a first grader over the alphabet and sweet recess conversations. I think it is a privilege that these kids let me into their lives, let me be their teacher, and let me love them. They love me back so well - and they are a quarter of my age! I specifically think of three four-year-old boys. One sometimes bites or hits when he gets overwhelmed, one struggles with fine motor skills, and one has extremely unpredictable behavior. The world tries to define them by the way they behave or what they cannot do, instead of celebrating what they can do. This honestly infuriates me. The world directly and indirectly assigns labels to them at age four as “undesirable” or “unsuccessful” or “difficult.” But, Jesus doesn’t see them as these things and I am so grateful. He perfectly made them and adores them. He thinks they are extraordinary - and they really are! Each of them have such gentle spirits, are generous, kind and radiate joy. These are all qualities that Jesus has that He has shared with them. It makes me want to cry when I think of them belly-laughing or smiling when they feel proud of themselves. The truth is that we all need to be reminded of who we were created to be. The world tells us otherwise. It is our privilege as teachers, as children of Christ, and as humans to remind others of how much the Lord loves them and delights in them, even if they are four-years old.
I came to Huehue scared of middle schoolers. I bought into every stereotype about them - they’re mean, they’re awkward, they’re self-centered, they don’t want to create a relationship with you. On the other hand, I love littles, and my experience with kids before this summer had been mostly limited to working with K/1 students. I came to the School of Hope under the impression that I would be teaching the tiniest of the tinies, staying strictly within the confines of my comfort zone. I never even entertained the thought of teaching older students.
We spent our first week shadowing classrooms. The littles were fun and sweet and everything that I had wanted and expected them to be, but I felt the Lord urging me to step into something different, to rise to a new challenge. Gently pushing me towards something unexpected. After the week was over, myself and the two other teaching interns discussed our placements. It was decided that I would work with 3rd-6th grade students.
I walked into my first day of working with the older students feeling scared, and walked out feeling exhilarated. They were funny and kind and welcoming and wonderful. They were everything I expected them not to be, and none of the things that I thought they would be. By the end of my second week, I was telling anyone who would listen about how incredible they are, how my stomach aches from laughing after spending an afternoon with them, how my days are marked by sweetness and laughter and encouragement.
At 11, 12, and 13 years old, they are in the most beautiful stage of becoming, of being in the in-between. They are moving out of childhood, entering into their teenage years, taking their first steps towards who they will be for the rest of their lives. They are at a crossroads of figuring out who they are and what they’re about. They are discovering their passions, what drives them, what they want to pursue in the future. It is the sweetest privilege to love them, mentor them, and be their friend during this stage of their life.
I’ve spent five weeks teaching them service, art, and Bible, but they’ve taught me about resiliency, kindness, and triumph of the human spirit. I teach them lessons, and they teach me about God - His grace, His patience, His creativity. My last day that I’ll teach them is August 9th, but I’ll carry the things they’ve taught me with me always. As the summer starts to draw to a close, I’ve been trying to etch details of them into my mind- their faces, their voices, and, above all else, the way they continuously choose joy and kindness in the face of hardship. I came here expecting to impart wisdom, but six weeks into this thing, I realize what a great honor it is to learn about life and love and Jesus from them.
Sometimes - actually every day - we are reminded that our days in Huehue are numbered and become sad. Two months ago, this place was just a city on a map that we knew little about. Now, it feels like we were made to be here. While the ice cream, sweet community and breathtaking mountains are bonuses, we both are enthralled with this place because of the kids that live here. We love that the same God who designed the moon and stars created things like belly laughs and Spanglish. We love that He brought us here and that He wants to teach us as much as we teach them. We love that He redeems brokenness and rewrites stories. We love doing life with these kids and how much they reflect His character to us and the world around them. We beam every morning when we walk to school, thrilled for what each day holds. For both of us, the school is a place that represents life to the fullest, joy that can’t be put into words, and a place where the line between heaven and earth seems remarkably thin. All I can say is that it is an absolute privilege to be a teacher to some of the most extraordinary kids we have ever met. What a gift.
This blog was written by Cassie Gilboy and Ellen Wood, two of our much-loved summer teaching interns.
Interested in teaching at the School of Hope? Apply here: www.storyintl.org/teach