Learning Rochester

                Last summer I worked at a summer camp for at-risk Rochester youth. During this experience I took the time to get to know the city. More specifically I found out about where my student population was coming from. It was then I learned about the areas of concentrated poverty in Rochester. Recently, in our Youth Year orientation we watched a video about the 1964 Race Riots in the city and spoke about the lasting effects which helped to connect a lot about what I learned last summer. Not much about my preconceived notions has changed, but I have learned a lot about the Rochester City School District in my first month of service, and how the City School District impacts the rest of the community.

                From the start date of my placement until now I haven’t stopped learning about the district. Growing up in a private and then suburban public school system, I don’t know much about any city school districts. I’ve learned how students are placed in the different city high schools.  I’ve learned about standards of performances and the recent school closings. I helped with transcripts and schedules and was able to see the performance of the student body. I attended a work shop in Niagara Falls. I attended the supervisors address to the teachers, counselors, and principals. I saw charts of falling test scores, falling attendance, and falling numbers of students in the district.

                Through dialogue with teachers and administrators it’s clear that the City School District’s perceived failures are really a culmination of many city wide problems that all trace back to the strife felt in 1964 and before. At the end of the day, what I’ve learned about the city through the school district has helped me get a holistic view of what’s wrong in the system. I guess working in the schools has brought my orientation tour of Rochester to life.

                All this being said, there are also so many positive things happening in Rochester. Just look at this blog, and you can see the numerous organizations around town helping to educate and alleviate the causes and stresses of poverty.         I’m hoping this year of service brings change to the students I, personally, am serving.  You can’t tackle everything at once, so hopefully if I create an after school Dance Club for the 1/3 of my student population that wants it, it will make a difference. And if every organization takes on a different task, it’ll all add up to a change for the better.  

                I suppose that strayed from the ‘pre-conceived notions’ prompt, but I’d say that my knowledge is now just ‘beefed-up’ not changed!

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