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Life as an Assistant Teacher: Barker ‘25 at the Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center

Growing up with my mom as a teacher has taught me so much in life. For a very long time I was dead set on never working with kids. Hearing my mom’s complaints growing over the years has put multiple red flags up in my line of vision. However, when thinking of all of the possibilities for a co-op, anything that enables working with kids seemed to be my top priority. The Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center was the perfect choice.

This Center is a privately owned 5-star facility that strives to focus on the individual child instead of the general population. Originally opening in 1926 as a nursery school, it now operates as a daycare for infants through 5th-graders. Located near campus, it was a perfect distance to skateboard to almost every morning.

After accepting a job at this private facility, I arrived with the niave thought that I would be exempt from the normal public school struggles and stresses. I quickily found out that that wasn’t the case. Like most schools nowadays, we’ve been struggling with low staff numbers as well as stresses caused by the challenges confronting students and staff alike. We also have not been able to hire a cook since I started working in November, which has created a big dent in the center’s ability to function smoothly. Despite all of these stresses, I’ve come to realize that I absolutely love kids and I want to continue working with them throughout my life.

Since starting in November, I’ve been able to experience and learn so many fun and exciting things about children and about myself. Together we planted and maintained a flower garden, learned how to skateboard, conquered fears of heights and closed spaces; made tons of art, and shared many stories.

Before summer started days here felt a lot shorter. I would come in around 9 in the morning to pass out and make breakfast and lunch, then me and the other school age teachers would walk up to Mills Lawn and meet the kids to walk them all back to the center. Once back around 2:30 we would go outside for recess for about an hour, then come back in for snack time. After everyone is done eating we would clean up and start an activity to do until tech time started at around five o’clock. At that point it’s just a waiting game to see who leaves last by six. Now that summer started and we no longer go to school to pick them up, our schedule is about the same except for our kids coming in a lot sooner and the field trips in the morning.

Just like everyone else I’ve talked to about co-op’s, this one definitely had it’s moments where I just wanted to quit and give up. But whenever I thought about not seeing the people here again, I couldn’t help but to feel sad. Being a teacher has majorly shortened my attention span for interaction with my friends and other people after work,. Because of this I am now able to completely understand why my mom has always just come home from work and sat and watched TV; why she doesn’t do many extra activities, and why she hasn’t quit after years of complaining. Being a teacher, especially nowadays, drains teachers. They’re forced to deal with things like unruly kids, limited support for discipline, and even down-low fighting between coworkers. Teachers are often told exactly what to teach without being able to do add some of their more creative ideas. Despite all this, there’s nothing else I would rather be doing right now.

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Hey I'm Sam. I'm going to Antioch College for philosophy and sustainability or environmental science. My goal is eventually open my own summer camp. My vision is to change the world for the better through the only way I see possible, through the children. I want to teach the importance of environmental consciousness and the importance of volunteering to help the community.

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