Eileen Boyle began her career in business and after twenty years decided to pursue teaching. Through an alternative certification program got her degree in mathematics and since has done work all over.
Eileen started off her teaching career “easy” as a math assistant in at Skokie School in Winnetka Illinois. Then her career took a 180 when she went across the country to the United Arab Emirates to work in a government school. It was difficult at first for her with the language barrier, and although the english alphabet is called arabic the arabs actually have their own alphabet, so most of the first grade girls had no idea how to write in english. Eileen taught English, science, and math to these girls over the course of a year which got easier as the year went on. “The most difficult part,” she said, “was that there was only one computer. In a technology heavy world, these kids needed to learn how to use it.”
She found the lack of resources a similar problem in The Chicago Public school system, only worse. There was no technology at the schools she substitute taught at and no text books, because of the tight budget for CPS. A Chicago Suntimes Report says 54 schools are closing down just this year leaving 30,000 kids displaced. The plan is to combine schools making larger amounts of kids classrooms. Eileen commented that, “they’re doing this to save money, but it’s hard enough teaching the classrooms as they are with all the unfocused kids. At one point we had four teachers in a classroom and we still could not get all the kids to pay attention.” She made a point of saying that the blame is not to lie with the kids as some schools have no art programs, no computer programs and gym once a week so of course they are apathetic, having to sit in one room for seven hours a day. It’s important to make sure kids enjoy learning and so they don’t see it as a chore.
Instead of focusing on these negatives events Eileen had two main ideas for imporovement. The first she brought back from her teaching experience at the UAE: parental involvement. In the UAE she found having a relationship with the parents very helpful so when a problem arose communication was clear and could be fixed easily. “A teacher-parent relationship is crucial in earning the respect of a kid,” which leads into her next point of being a respected teacher. Eileen found that some teachers knew how to handle the kids very well and because of this reputation were able to have respect of a classroom being even having to lay down the law. “Prospective teachers should have to spend a year with a really great teacher” in order to gain a first hand experience. Eileen brought of one organization in particular Academy For Urban School Leadership. This organization currently serves over 14,000 students and prepares teachers to better manage and teach kids in urban schools. With more programs like this, small steps can be made to solve a big problem.
As the percentage of impoverished families in America hit 16% in The 2012 U.S. Census it became clear that an educated upcoming generation is crucial in order to reach more equal economic status in America. Heads turn to the next generation for solutions as how to expand the middle class. In order to begin to create this ideal future we need to build the minds to imagine it, using the innovation from all socioeconomic classes of of country.
photo credit to the Chicago Tribune http://graphics.chicagotribune.com/school_utilization
Elise Duffy, 17