Though I heard good things and was excited to take EN 455: Writing in the Schools, I was a tad apprehensive and certainly nervous. I had worked plenty with senior citizens and even animals, but kids? Or teens? Not so much. Even as a kid myself, my track record with that demographic was rather poor. But after conversations with multiple persons the previous semester, I began to contemplate teaching and felt compelled to take on this opportunity, something which the very idea I would have scoffed at several months prior.

And what an experience it has been. My only regret is the days I missed due to illness, because each and every day I have spent here has been so uplifting. There was never a day of stress at Shortridge, and even if I had had a bad day or night before coming in, my conversations with the students always managed to uplift me. Some of the poems Shortridge students have written have managed to cut straight to the heart and hit at home, and it brings a sense of community and similarity amongst a group of young persons with wholly different backgrounds from my own, where perhaps everything else about our lives has differed. Whereas before I thought perhaps I was alienated from those younger than myself, I have come to realize this is not the case.

With most of the students I have worked with, we have clicked in some way, and I have had many lengthy conversations, whether about video games or TV shows or manga. I’ve loved being an open ear and even a bouncing board for ideas for their novels, stories, and poems. Working at Shortridge has been such a blessing and a wonderful experience, where I have learned a great deal—about public school, kids, learning, teaching, and even myself. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Heather Atkins is a junior English Creative Writing major.