Monthly Archives: October 2014

­

November 2014: Alie Manzella

Service Site: La Salle High School, Yakima, WA

Alie Manzella

Alie Manzella

College: La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA

What do you do?

I teach Spanish 1 classes, Current World Issue classes, Academic Support and advise seniors.

What is the most challenging obstacle that your students face?  How does your school and your own outreach try to empower them to overcome this obstacle?

The most challenging obstacle at this service site is serving the population they intended to serve. We, as a school, try to reach out to the prominent Latino community. The school’s goal is to attract students to ensure that they receive a Catholic education, especially if they can’t afford one. Furthermore, the plan is to make everyone feel welcome and supported. I help in this particular mission through Academic Support. We have a number of students trying to assimilate to the vigor of the curriculum. Among them, there areIMG_0551 our newly transferred Latino students. My job is to make sure the struggling students know they have the support and guidance to give them the tools they needs and steer them to realize their full potential. By dedicating my time and energy into this cause, I hope to see these student’s friends come to the school. Word of mouth is a powerful resource.

What has been your biggest disappointment in your volunteer service?  How has this affected you?

My biggest disappointment thus far would be the news that the Brothers’ Community will be closing after this year. While I know their presence will be there through other ways of support, I feel a great heartache for the kids, the school, and truthfully myself. The Brothers add a special something to campus that I’ve never seen anywhere but a Lasallian school. I will miss Brother Jack and Brother Anthony immensely. It’s only been three months of living together, but I can’t imagine what next year brings without them.

Give an example of a time when you knew you were making a difference.

In my Current World Issues course with my seniors, I struggled with the task of talking about racism in America and across the globe. Here in Yakima, racism is mostly towards the Native Americans and Latinos. They easily identified and compared Yakima, and America in general, to other country that harbor racist animosities towards the indigenous people of their country. However, racism against African Americans was foreign to them. It’s something they hadn’t seen. As much as I tried to explain, my words couldn’t hold much weight. So, I showed a documentary, Dark Girls. Though it was about colorism and how people of the same race discriminate against one another, my students finally started to see, to feel something that they hadn’t understood. I remember turning on the lights to see tears in every single person’s face, all of them, after a four year old dark-skinned girl told the interviewer that she is ugly and unintelligent because of her skin color. That is when my heart felt that pang. That I made an impact.

IMG_0554

What would you say to a friend from home who questioned why you chose to live with the Brothers?

I get this question all the time! I chose to live with Brothers so that I can grow spiritually. They don’t judge. They don’t expect. They teach.

Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?

This will prepare any senior for the professional world they are about to step into. You will learn things about yourself and make adjustments so that when you do get that dream job, you will be fully prepared.

Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?

Without your support and contribution, this program wouldn’t be possible. The children across the United States in Lasallian schools can thank you for providing them with teachers they couldn’t otherwise afford. As an LV, I wouldn’t be able to serve and make a difference as cliché as it is. I wouldn’t be able to move across the country to Yakima, where I feel I was called, to give these students everything I have to offer.

How would you like to continue your involvement with the Lasallian family after your time with the Lasallian Volunteers? 

I, myself, plan to become a donor when I become established to ensure the program’s longevity.

By |October 31st, 2014|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on November 2014: Alie Manzella

Bridget Kennedy: Light Bulb Moments

Bridget Kennedy, 14-15, De La Salle at St. Matt's, St. Louis, MO

Bridget Kennedy, 14-15, De La Salle at St. Matt’s, St. Louis, MO

No amount of college courses, projects, lesson planning, classroom observations or student teaching can ever prepare you for when you have a classroom of your own. Walking into the building for the first day of school I had a huge mixture of emotions. I was excited, nervous, anxious, overwhelmed and homesick. I didn’t think one person could feel all those things at once, but it is possible.

As the students entered the building, my emotions escalated even more. First of all, I knew absolutely no one – no one’s name, no one’s grade. I was a little fish in a big sea. I felt like this the entire first week of school. It was a huge adjustment for me. Not only was I adjusting to a new city and new school, I was adjusting to working with middle school students. Just an FYI, middle school students are NOT the same as elementary school students; I quickly learned this in the first five minutes of the school day. The first thing I noticed about the middle school students is that the majority of them are taller than me. I don’t know why that surprised me so much because most people are taller than me. The second thing I noticed about the middle school students is that they are not afraid to talk back and do not like to listen or follow directions, especially given by a new teacher (me). I knew I was in for a rough and eye-opening year.

After the first day of school, my emotions changed drastically from excited, nervous, anxious to “what the heck am I doing here?!” Throughout the first month of school, the students continued to not listen to me, give me attitude, and make my days miserable. I talked things over with fellow teachers, got advice, and tried a few things out. It was and still is a trial and error period on how to manage the behavior of most students.

With the issues and behaviors combined with adjusting to this new place, I forgot what I was really here for. I came to teach the students that don’t get enough attention. I came to listen to the students and learn from them as much as they could learn from me. I came to help. I was reminded of why I came about a month into the school year.

A student, who is lower than most in his class and struggles in both reading and math, is in the class that I assist in. One day, I noticed he looked upset and asked if there was anything I could do to help. He pointed to the computer screen and just said “I don’t get it.” I looked at the screen, comparing decimals. (BIG sigh of relief that it wasn’t fractions. Fractions are not my friend.) I said to him, “Well that’s what I am here for!” I did one example for him, we did a second example together, and I let him try the third on his own as I watched. He understood immediately and his face lit up. It was like I could physically see the light bulb switch on. I told him to continue working by himself and let me know when he was finished. Ten minutes later, he had a huge smile on his face and showed me he got all the questions right. He then said to me, “Thank you Ms. Kennedy. It’s because of you I know what to do now.”

Yes, I still have my rough days and I am still figuring out how to control the students, but knowing I helped this one student keeps me going each day. I hope to have little moments like this with every student I work with.

Bridget Kennedy is a 1st year LV serving at De La Salle at St. Matt’s in Saint Louis, Missouri and is a 2014 graduate of La Salle University.

By |October 22nd, 2014|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Bridget Kennedy: Light Bulb Moments

Clare O’Connell: Everything in its Right Place

Clare O'Connell, 13-15, DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis, MN

Clare O’Connell, 13-15, DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis, MN

A year ago today, I was a different person in a difficult position. I was overwhelmed by the sensory overload of moving to a faraway place where I knew almost no one, getting used to “nine-to-five” life, living in community with people I barely knew, and being surrounded by the Catholic faith more than ever before.

Needless to say, it was an incredibly stressful adjustment, and if you had asked me in October 2013 whether I was going to do a second year of volunteering, I would have said, “Nope.” I would have told you that I would much prefer to be back on the east coast with my family, receiving an annual salary instead of a stipend, and not constantly adjusting to changes around me.

I was certain that being a Lasallian Volunteer would not be as rewarding as I originally thought it could be. However, I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Choosing to remain an LV for a second year was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made but also one of the best decisions of my life. I felt a faint pull, a need to be more fulfilled in my part of the mission. I knew that there was something more for me to do, although I wasn’t sure exactly what that was.

My doubts and questions were answered as soon as I started my service this year. Everything has fallen into place, and I feel as though I might actually be making a small difference. I am more confident in my abilities to educate my students and help them succeed. I am more comfortable with my faith and have found ways to integrate it into my daily life. I am lucky enough to have been supported in these two Lasallian pillars by the third: my community.

So when my 2nd hour student tells me how my tutoring has been helping her in algebra, I know I made the right decision. When I feel moved during evening prayer, I know. And when I realize that I have made some great friends within my community, I know. Everything I went through last year wasn’t easy, but it’s clear to me now how valuable each part of this experience has been.

Clare O’Connell is a 2nd year LV serving at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a 2013 graduate of Manhattan College.

By |October 8th, 2014|Categories: blog, news + events|1 Comment