I have been working closely with the Wellness Center at CASA (Children’s After School Arts) in San Francisco and honestly it’s a dream. The Wellness Center provides a therapeutic space, activities and services for the children of CASA to increase their mental, emotional and social wellbeing.
I want to walk you through what a regular day in the Wellness Center looks like:
I arrive at the Rooftop School in Twin Peaks (this is where CASA is located) around 1:30 pm everyday since dismissal for school is at 2 pm. With those 30 minutes, Laurel (my supervisor) and I spend that time discussing if there are any crafts that I would like to do at the spare table, printing out sign-in sheets and tracking sheets, and talking about the students who utilized the Wellness Center the last few days.
When the school bell goes off at 2 pm, Laurel and I head over to bungalow B18 where the WC is during after school hours. We quickly set up and announce over the walkie that the WC is open. From 2 pm – 4:30 pm, students come in, sign in (as we fill out the student tracking sheet) and decide how they want to utilize the Wellness Center for a 15 minute period.
Students have the option of going to a handful of different stations; the sensory station, the art and watercolor station, the cozy/mindfulness station, the rug station (where there are building blocks, puppets, and books), and finally, a student can ask to speak to either Laurel or I at one of the stations. While I cannot speak too much of what the students tell me, students come in for an array of reasons, sometimes because something is wrong or simply because they need a quiet safe space to decompress.
It has been really incredible to see how well-spoken and intelligent the students at CASA are. These students are highly creative and their ability to process their emotions and to have restorative conversations with staff and peers is something that I wish I had the opportunity to grow up with and gives me a lot of hope for their generation.
Also, the sense of community you feel the second you feel the second you walk through the gates is almost overwhelming but is so special. With that being said, I have decided to begin my three part zine senior project for the time I have left here. I think the creativity and awareness these students have would be a great addition to my zine.
It has been a delight so far getting to know my colleagues and students and I’m excited to see what these next few weeks will bring!
For my winter 2021 co-op term, I have been working at a public school in New York City as a teaching assistant in an art room. I work with kids from kindergarten to fifth grade. Although it is not my first week of working at PS 234, I am still getting the hang of everything: learning how to work with Madeline, the art teacher; learning students’ names; learning where the supplies are kept; etc. It is really helpful that I recognize a handful of students who I worked with previously but, holy cow, are they grown!
So far, I’m enjoying it… I mean, who wouldn’t like being paid to do art for three hours a day with a bunch of creative kiddos? Especially since, for the most part, all the kids are very sweet and so are my colleagues.
First picture: This is a picture of the “Artitorium” as we call it! Two students sit every other row. On the projector is an example of an art prompt, which we begin each class with.
Second picture: This is a picture of the trays which hold the students’ art materials. I am about to put three pieces of colored paper in each student’s tray for collaging.
Third picture: This is a picture of an example of how to rip circles into the black and white pieces of paper for collaging. That day, we also went over ripping slowly and ripping quickly, as well as a happy versus a sad glue stick (hint: sad glue sticks break!).
I have also been managing to create somewhat of a routine for myself, something I’ve been missing since the pandemic went into full swing. Each weekday, I wake up at 8:45, get dressed & all that jazz, catch the bus around 9:30 (Exciting news! I have made friends which the bus driver, Al, and now I don’t have to pay a fare! Woohoo!), get a bagel & coffee from the cart and try to not freeze for about 30 minutes, check-in at 10:30 and do all the work things until 1:30. My time during work is scheduled similarly:
10:30-10:45: End of class (sometimes a remote class). Put away trays and other materials before putting out the materials for the next class.
10:45-11:30: Help students and Madeline, put away trays and other materials, and put out the materials for the next class.
11:30-12:15: Help students and Madeline, put away trays and other materials, and put out the materials for the next class. Unless it is Monday or Friday when I help out in the gym by cleaning the materials the kids are playing with, making sure the kids are playing nicely, and bring kids to the bathroom or the nurse’s office (doesn’t happen often, thankfully!).
12:15-1:00: Help students and Madeline, put away trays and other materials, and get ready for the next day. Sometimes this looks like putting out all of the trays or putting in new supplies if they are starting a new project.
1:00-1:30: Occasionally, I have lunch with Madeline. When I don’t, I go to the office and do whatever work they have for me, such as cleaning and organizing or running errands and answering the phones. More often than not, I have no work to do so I talk with my coworkers or I read or write.
Most days, when I get out of work, I babysit (among other things) for the rest of the afternoon. Although this is usually a really chaotic time of day for me (I have to get from West to East within 30 minutes of the second I step out of the school building), I really enjoy it! I babysit a really sweet eight-year-old boy named Tristian, who loves cats, turtles, sharks, and the Cars movies, and also wants to be a private investigator. Usually, when I pick him up, we go to the playground to swing until about 3:30. Afterward, we go to a local cafe where we drink cocoa, dance, and I read stories to him until his mama picks him up.
1. (Between a first-grader and Madeline)
Madeline: Okay first-graders! Before we watch a video on how crayons are made, what do you think crayons are made of?
*first-grader wearing hot pink and sequins raises hands*
2. (Between me and a second-grader, Lucas)
Lucas: *raises hand*
Me: Hi! You’re doing a great job! What do you need?
Lucas: I need to tell you a secret.
Me: *leans in and covers my ear* What’s up?
Lucas: Sometimes… I eat kibble… like dog kibble… My grandma lets me eat it when her dog isn’t home… It’s really yummy for dinner… but my mommy doesn’t let me eat it.
Me: Oh wow… You probably shouldn’t eat it too often. Do you have a favorite kind?
Lucas: Nope, I like them all!