Buen Dia Family School is a two-story brown building with green stairs. It sits right off the corner of Guerrero and 18th, caddy corner to Tartine bakery, the French boulangerie that’s on every Top 100 restaurants list for San Francisco (I went there once, it was good). Inside the school, you’ll find art everywhere: hanging from the ceilings, pinned to the walls, on the tables, et cetera. Buen Dia is, at its simplest, an arts-based preschool with a Spanish bilingual component. However, I quickly learned Buen Dia was so much more.
It is here that I took my second co-op. I had long desired to live in San Francisco and Buen Dia offered me that as well as an out-of-the-box art-based job. I work as a teacher’s assistant, so I do a little bit of everything around the school ranging from helping with naptime to cleaning, leading storytime and playing with the kids, as well as helping direct art projects and make food for snack time.
A typical day for me starts at 10, where I work in the office for a few hours assisting with paperwork and Excel sheets. At 1, I’ll head downstairs to help with “cave”, which is the alternative to nap-time. We read stories and relax for an hour, then I clean up the area. Afterward, I’ll float from position to position, sometimes supervising outdoor-play, the art table, or the block area. I’ll additionally help kids get their shoes on at pickup time, then finish cleaning and setting up for the next day.
Buen Dia focuses on the child’s individuality and creativity. We transcribe stories from kids to go with their illustrations, encourage them to express whatever emotion they’re experiencing in a positive way, and work one-on-one with kids to solve problems. There is no sending children to time-out. Instead, we will discuss what went wrong and how we can fix the situation now or how to better avoid it in the future.
With many teachers being fluent in both Spanish and English, there is an immersive learning experience for the students (and myself as well). Many of the children are already bilingual in Spanish and English, with the others comprehending most Spanish. Being immersed in an elementary-level language environment, my Spanish comprehension has skyrocketed. I hadn’t spoken Spanish since high school, but I now converse on a basic level with the kids as well as read stories in Spanish. It is honestly a very exciting facet of this job I hadn’t expected.
Every few weeks, we rotate the subject of our theme table. The themed table highlights events going on in our world at the moment, such as the Lunar New Year, International Women’s Month, and Black History Month. We shared Valentine cards on February 14th, which meant I handmade around 40 cards as well as received a lovely bag full of cards from the students. We made two lion costumes for the Lunar New Year and had a parade around the block, complete with music. Parents regularly participate in events and activities, with most parents being present at the parade and stopping by to help when we need an extra hand. One child’s mother came and made tortillas españolas and taught the students about them, and another came to help fix a broken door and a damaged fence.
I had worked with kids before, though I never anticipated just how dramatically this co-op would change my career goals. I was so certain I would pursue a masters to go on to college-level education in media arts, though I am now trying to find a way to take early childhood education classes to get certified. I have established wonderful relationships with the students as well as the teachers I work with every day. I am looking forward to hopefully coming back to Buen Dia again on another co-op. I still have two weeks left though I already dread leaving.
The Foundry Theater at Antioch College is an old brick building adjacent to the farm and right on the outskirts of campus. It’s a quiet place without many visitors, save the occasional Yellow Springs tourist looking for a bathroom. The building is home to Antioch’s performance department, as well as two performance spaces, a dance studio, a workshop, and multiple classroom spaces. It’s a location for art and exploration and the development of one’s self. It also happens to be the location of my first co-op job.
My official title here is “theater production assistant.” I feel like this definition may change depending on what theater you work at, but this really means that I will do literally anything and everything to assist the running of the Foundry. Each day is kind of an adventure at the Foundry. My supervisor and I are convinced this building is haunted by technical directors of Antioch past, and they are causing mayhem in this building for fun.
While my duties change day-to-day or even hour-to-hour, I always manage the Foundry’s calendars and main email account. It’s difficult to maintain a routine with the unforeseeable difficulties of working at the Foundry, but I always manage to clear through emails and adjust events each day. I occasionally will handle theater request forms and I am typically the point of contact for students who wish to use the theater space, which is fun for me. In the past, I have worked strictly customer service jobs, so it’s nice to still be doing that. In addition to emails and calendars, I’m working on a safety manual as well as a catalog of chemicals here in the building; busywork that, while dull, seems incredibly important.
Aside from administrative jobs, I also work on fixing theater lamps. the Foundry has an obscure amount of lamps for the size of theater we are, and with a large number of lamps comes a large number of broken ones. I can now rewire a stage in and do simple troubleshooting for broken stage lamps; it seems like a largely obscure skill, but interesting nonetheless. I’ve also gotten increasingly good at picking metal splinters out of my fingers.
It’s difficult for me to really describe what I do at the Foundry Theater. Once I was twelve feet in the air to take down a bunch of dead Christmas lights. I reset the chairs in the Main Theater because people move them around after shows and then they don’t comply with fire safety. I mop and clean lobbies and floors. Sometimes I just babysit the building during events and be a point of contact in case something goes awry. I’ve run the soundboard for multiple events and assisted with lightboard development and programming. I’m getting better and gaining a lot of experience setting up sound equipment, which has been really interesting and fun.
A really exciting project I was able to work on was the Yellow Springs high school’s production of Oklahoma!. I assisted in the construction of the set and kind of got to take on the role of a mentor. This also happened to be my first experience with high schoolers after graduating myself, which proved interesting. We built an entire prop house and I did most of the painting, as I did not have a large amount of experience building things. It was really fun and hands-on, and I hope I can do something similar in the future. Below is a picture of the prop house, pre-roof installation.
My experience with co-op has been wonderful. I never expected to work in a theater, but I was pleasantly surprised with my time here. It’s offered me a learning experience I otherwise would have never received only taking classes. It has provided me a chance to learn hands-on in a one-on-one environment with my supervisor, which can be difficult at times in classes. With my time here coming to an end, it feels bittersweet. I’ve greatly enjoyed being here and developing my skills, but I look forward to next quarter and taking classes once more.