Warrior Words: Back to school

A couple of weeks ago, I had my second first day of fifth grade. For my senior internship, I am a teacher’s assistant at Cider Mill with Mr. Coomaraswamy’s fifth grade class, and going into the class for the first time was surreal. I felt like I did on my real first day of fifth grade: nervous, yet excited for new opportunities. Would the kids (now six or seven years my junior) like me? Would this new endeavor encourage my passion for teaching and confirm my major of elementary education, or would I be turned off completely? And, most importantly, did the cafeteria food get any better since I left?

To my excitement, I was greeted with open arms and infectious smiles. Mr. C. made me feel right at home with my own large desk in the back of the room where kids could come to ask questions or talk to me, and all of the kids were so excited to meet me. I was reminded of what a real passion for learning looks like, because at some point, kids my age lose it. When I or Mr. C. asked a question, 10 or so hands shot up like rockets instead of a teacher begging for participation like in high school. These kids were thrilled to display their knowledge, and eager to learn more.

The class took me in like it was second nature, asking me questions like I was a real teacher, while Mr. C. gave me assignments in the same way. I’ve only been there a couple weeks, yet I feel a real connection with each of the kids, and I could tell you about the one girl who always has her nose in a book because she can’t bear to put it down or the boy who can recite each individual general of World War II like it was the alphabet.

Kids have this true zest for life and a deep-rooted optimism that I want to surround myself with. I want to teach because I want to fill my adult life with their joy, optimism, and color. I could stand in a big beige room and give a presentation to some adults who are counting down the minutes until they get to leave, and get paid maybe twice as much — but I choose to teach in a bright classroom to kids who wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

For our last Warrior Words, I’m sure a few other girls will be looking back at the year, and what it’s brought — but I choose to look forward. I do this partially because looking back will make me cry enough tears to short my laptop, but mostly because my internship gives me a glimpse into my future. Ever since I decided I wanted to be a teacher (around eighth grade), I’ve been waiting to get out of school just to get back into it. This internship reminds me why. I can’t wait to walk into a classroom of colorful posters and bright, smiling faces every morning to teach a new generation. I’m like a kid in a candy store here, walking into different classes and filing away different teaching strategies that I might want to adopt later on. I see reward systems I want to replicate, disciplinary measures that actually work, and inspirational posters that I just have to get. When I tell people I’m going to be a teacher, they normally say, “That’s perfect for you!” and suddenly, I’m really feeling like that’s true.

Senior year has brought me immense challenges, successes, and everything in between. Now more than ever is the time to feel nostalgic and sad over what I’m leaving behind, but I’m lucky enough to have an internship that distracts from the negativity in the best way. I feel lucky to be greeted by 22 excited kids each morning and have the stress of senior year fall away to the sound of their cheerful voices. As senior year wraps up, I feel lucky to have 22 elated hello’s to fight one big goodbye.

Brooke Amodei is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.