Milty Goes to Connecticut

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 19 2009

Return of the Fruit Thief

Things that I heard regarding institute from some CMs:

  • I’d rather die than do institute again.
  • Why do you want to go back?
  • It was literally the worst thing that ever happened to me.
  • It was like teacher boot camp.

What I thought:

  • For the love of three oranges, let’s stop talking about classroom management and talk pedagogy!
  • Well, that wasn’t the horrible thing it was built up to be.
  • Where’s the coffee?

In proof of this, I have returned to Philadelphia for another glorious summer of institute. No sarcasm brackets. I really am incredible pleased and proud to be here. I’m the Director of Corps Communications here, meaning that I’m managing the communications team. We’re in charge of

  • all signs
  • bulletin boards
  • the communications center
  • publications – operations manual, eBlast, INFORM, City Guide, Professional Development catalog
  • TFANet.org for the Philadelphia institue

If you’re thinking, you’re crazy, you’re not the first one to come up with that idea. I arrived in Philadelphia on Tuesday, and I have pretty much worked 18 hours a day since my arrival. My operations coordinators arrived today; that should take some of the work load off of me in a couple of days. But I remember this feeling, the feeling that when I love what I’m doing, I’ll keep slaving away at it until (a) it’s finished (b) someone interrupts me (c) I pass out. I’m glad the other operations directors are around to tap me on the shoulder and ask me to go to the dining hall. Otherwise they might find me in several weeks, slumped over a computer looking not unlike a extra from Night of the Living Dead.

So I’m thrilled to be back at institute as staff. Thrilled to be training people on the Teach For America brand. Thrilled to be doing desktop publishing again. Thrilled to train a group of college kids to love Teach For America’s core values. No sarcasm here, either. Thrilled to say honestly, “What I’m doing is for Student Achievement and Student Achievement.” Thrilled to correct incorrectly-branded signage. Thrilled to draw up schematics for the comm office and bulletin boards. Even thrilled to live in a dorm room and eat at a dining hall. (If I were responsible for my own meals here, my diet would consist only of bananas stolen from the dining hall, which I don’t endorse, granola bars and Dunkin Donuts coffee.) Walking up to 1300 Cecil B. Moore gave me a profound wave of nostalgia. I just really love it here. Not everyone gets to “live at Teach For America,” and I get to twice!

The other thing is that, honestly, I adore Philly. Philly is that guy that you would never date but the sex is great. Dirty, loud, big, noisy, hot. (Any and every and all puns intended.) Philly is the guy that my dad doesn’t want me to hang out with. Philly is seductive; it pulls me in. It’s just the right blend of gorgeous, historical and crass. Philly is that food that you know is bad for you but just tastes so damn good. The Philly accent is hot. That brash, flat-voweled accent that sounds like Philly looks. However, dear Philly, I can only have you for a summer fling.  I know you’ll be okay with my inability to committ when I go back to my preppy Connecticut home with its nantucket reds and clam chowder.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go to bed so I can get up … to get Dunkin Donuts in the morning.

One Response

  1. All those summers that I might have worked at the Institute (any of the six or eight or however many they are up to), I did not. I worried that I might mess up; I feared that I might crack before the CMs do; I was convinced that there was nothing I could contribute to the CMs that another staff at my position wouldn’t easily do better.

    This year I finally felt that I might have something to offer, and I am really eager to see the new DCA curriculum in action. Too bad my new job can’t afford to let me take two months off to do the Institute. The best I can do is to volunteer once in a while, whenever the Atlanta Institute needs extra helping hands with the registration, the TFA Day, and who knows what else may be available.

    Do you have suggestions on how else an alumnus who has gone corporate can help during the Institute?

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Charmingly (maybe) Existential (possible) Musings (read: rants) on My TFA Tenure


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