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The Truth About Teaching: Lexi Payton ’22 at Paraclete Academy

I have always described myself as a living paradox. I like my room to be clean, very clean. In fact, I start everyday by making my bed, and I vacuum my floor before the night ends. However, I am an absurdly messy eater. I eat with my hands, I never use napkins, and I usually end up with food on my forehead.

I am insecure and aloof in one moment, and then narcissistic the next. I enjoy solitude, but I’m afraid of being alone.

I have never been a fan of chaos, but my passion in life is teaching kids.

 

The Truth About Teaching 

The students cobbled together, sprinting into the building, screaming and fighting with each other.

We were in for a treat: the day after spring-break treat. A treat that would lead to our ultimate demise.

I thought to myself, why did break have to end? The sleeping in until noon and then taking the T to downtown to explore and read in Boston Common. Maybe stop for a coffee but definitely stop for lunch and then get back to Paraclete to FaceTime my friends back home, and write in my journal. This had been my previous week, a week of break, a week of sweet freedom, a week without screaming kids.

Is this how the rest of my life is going to be like? Am I going to be waiting for Fridays, for weekends, for breaks?

As the night went on I made slime with a student Raiandy, a short and spunky fourth grader who laughs at absolutely everything. He made a plan to create a stress ball with his newly acquired slime and a rubber glove.

I began to embrace the chaos that was around me, and I could feel myself find joy in tiny things.

“Sounds like a plan, Stan,” I said to him.

Stan the man

”My name isn’t Stan,” he giggled.

“Oh yeah… That’s right. Your name is Raiandy, right? Not Stan.”

“DUH. But what if my name was Stan? Oh my god, I should name my little guy Stan. Stan the man!”

And so it was, his rubber glove son was born and his name was Stan the man. Sadly, Stan the man’s life was short lived. Another kid who squeezed him too tight popped the rubber glove. Raiandy rushed to me.

“Lexi!! Help!! Stan the man is in trouble! He needs surgery!!” Raiandy bellowed.

We spent the rest of the afternoon doing surgery, transferring Stan’s blood into another “body”. A different type of blood transfusion I suppose. Raiandy and I are breaking surgical history with our method.

“What would I have done without you here? What if you hadn’t have came to Paraclete and you stayed in Ohio?” Raiandy asked, his big brown eyes peering behind his over-sized glasses.

“Stan the man, would be no more, Raiandy.”

“Exactly! It’s a good thing you are here.”

I was no longer reminiscing, I was living.

Although silly, this is an example as to why every day matters as a teacher. My goal within this life is to cultivate a career where I am not wishing away every day of the week. This job is difficult, no doubt. It often times leaves you feeling exhausted and sometimes even defeated at the end of the day. But each day is a day that could change a student’s life, or maybe save a student’s rubber-glove-man’s life.

I can’t wait for Fridays, for weekends, for breaks. Every day is a day I need to be here, and be present, and indulge in the chaos. Each day matters.

 

Paraclete (The Academy, After School Program, Center)

This must be it, I insisted as I pulled up to Paraclete on April 6, 2019. The building itself (a massive brick cube with a thousand windows) was incredibly distinguishable from the rest of the street. Here, buildings that all look the same sit on top of each other. But Paraclete was its own building and it declared its own space. The building screams it’s character. It’s quirky and old, but it has a beautiful story to tell.

This repurposed convent is surrounded by a black gate that’s wrapped in ivy. On the left, there is a large patch of grass and a blooming magnolia tree. On the right, there is a smaller patch of grass and the driveway, leading to the back of the building where kids play basketball, hopscotch, four-square, football, and endless creative variations of these activities.

Monday through Friday each week, around thirty students (ranging from fourth grade to eighth) from local South Boston schools come to Paraclete for homework help and enrichment classes such as cooking and creative arts.

Although, the building is alluring, the building itself is not what gives Paraclete its character. The people inside Paraclete are what makes Paraclete the gleamingly stunning establishment it is. The teachers and staff here at Paraclete are inherently caring individuals, always positive and always looking to help. The students here at Paraclete are loud and chaotic, but they are good, smart, and kind.

Paraclete holds a space for these students of South Boston to flourish and learn. But it is not only an encouraging space for educational growth, but personal growth as well. I have seen individual growth from almost all of the students here, whether it be a shift in language and tone or a change of energy, from negative to positive, the kids here are learning to be better people everyday.

In the short amount of time I have been here, I can also report that Paraclete has inspired growth within my own personal life. I have not only learned from the teachers here, but the students as well, who teach me that every single day is important. 

I think I love the contradiction. I think I love the paradoxical life.

 

Sumio, Nona, and Kim playing Map Twister

Olivia and Kim painting with watercolors

Raiandy, Saladin, and Khalid “teaching” me how to play chess

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Lexi Payton is pursuing a self-designed major in Secondary Education with a focus in Literature. Lexi grew up in small town Goshen, Ohio and loves to read, write, and take photos in her free time. Her academic interests include social justice and education reform. After her time at Antioch, she hopes to pursue a career as a high-school English teacher.

Latest comments
  • You’ve really captured the essence of paraclete! We are so lucky to have you, lexi 🙂

  • Love this!! You are doing sucH amazing things! Im so happy you got to do this! So proud of you!

  • Excellent article by an Extraordinary young woman

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