By D'Andrew Parker
AmeriCorps member on the Microsoft team serving at Cardozo Education Campus
The work that I have done in City Year thus far would not be possible without the support of a dynamic teacher partnership. In the classroom, I don’t feel like a paper copier, pencil sharpener, or bathroom break coordinator; my role is more so a co-teacher— a trusted adult within the classroom. Mr. Holman has spent the last four years of his teaching career with a City Year AmeriCorps Member in his classroom and has come to thoroughly understand our purpose, principles, and how effective instruction can be whenever the synergy of our roles is embraced. I am so fortunate to be paired with him. Brilliantly, Mr. Holman’s vision for the success of our students at Cardozo Education Campus aligns itself with City Year’s Model: Whole School, Whole Child.
I realized Mr. Holman was going to be a superb partner teacher when he asked me the question, “What should we change about this lesson for the next class?” The question may seem commonplace in an academic setting, but the statement was quite profound to me; this was a first attempt to leverage my insight, my ‘expertise’. In that moment I felt empowered— in fact, I felt as though I was standing on the shoulders of giants before me who had experienced this partnership as well. This question created an obligation within me to act; the call was to serve. This question meant that Mr. Holman was not afraid of change, and possessed the sine-qua-non of education to be moldable, teachable. Notably, this question meant that Mr. Holman fit a top-drawer example of what it means to work together and lead with an open heart and an open mind.
Mr. Holman’s rapport with the students is quite remarkable. He fully understands the nature of how students develop and applies boundaries in his relationships with them to weigh more on the side of loving, individualized attention, rather than punitive responses to their actions. I have benefited from our partnership by paying close attention to the way he works with our students. The ways are practical and innovative. As a result, the students confide in him more genuine information than any teacher I’ve worked with. It is a most compassionate quality to walk in the spirit of advocacy for what the the students of our school need, and what he as a teacher is designed to provide for them. Indeed, Mr. Holman has taught me to double down on support for the students, with an approach rooted in empathy.
From this partnership, I have learned to give without expectations, and accept without exceptions. Mr. Holman throws himself into the climate and culture of the school by staying long after hours of school operation to teach credit recovery and Saturday school, organize the school’s newspaper: The Cardozo Owl, line up the down markers on the football field, and work the shot clock for the basketball games. There is unquestionably no way to wholly describe this brand of selflessness. I could attempt to, but such words do not belong to me. To work in partnership with Mr. Holman, having a “heart full of grace and a soul generated by love” makes so much more sense.
This year has been composed of experiences that have shaped my approach to the world of education. There have been challenges that we have faced, but Mr. Holman has been central to my understanding of what it means to rise from those challenges in collaboration with someone you trust. Each and every day, Mr. Holman and I fill our pockets with as much sand our pants can tote. When we pick up the sand...ball our fists—sometimes, the sand slips out. But when we reach down to retrieve the sand that slipped, there could very well be a starfish there, baking from the heat of the sun. More clearly, I am able to see the intersectionality between the students we work with and the impact we create. Because it is only when in a harmonious partnership, we have a merry time throwing starfish back into water together; but chiefly, it is only when in a harmonious partnership that we reach into our pockets at the end of the day and find diamonds. You’re the best, Mr. Holman!
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