For 2017 corps member Eric Smith, the first year of teaching didn't go as expected. But when faced with challenges, he and the Tindley Prep team persevered with a deep commitment to their students and to one another. #OneDayINdy
July 5, 2018
My first year of teaching is in the books, and as I reflect back on the experience, I am truly lucky to have worked with such an amazing group of teachers at Tindley Preparatory Academy. Without them, I would not have grown and flourished as an educator.
I remember the excitement as we kicked off the school year. Hallways were buzzing, lessons were intense and engaging, and l was growing more and more conﬁdent by the day. Then a series of challenges came forward that required us to dig deep. Due to circumstances beyond our control, several teachers left their jobs, and one of our administrators was required to spend time at another campus. We were suddenly left with four content teachers, our electives team, and one principal.
What happened next was a testament to the shared values of the adults I worked alongside. Tindley does not believe in leaving a single child behind, and the adults I worked with emulated that belief with their work ethic. As opposed to panicking, quitting, or lowering the bar, we stretched ourselves to make sure our boys received the best education we could give them. Teachers picked up additional subjects, electives teachers pushed into classrooms to assist scholars and teachers, and our Principal, Mr. Lennon, covered eighth grade algebra, while still running our building.
I am not going to paint a false picture that it was perfect every single day. It was early mornings and late nights, stress and extra planning, and days that left you exhausted. However, on those days we were tired, there was a restorative power to walking into the MPR (multipurpose room) every morning to pick up your class and know that the other adults in the room had your back and were working just as hard. Alone we would have collapsed, together we held the line.
Eventually things became easier, we added some tremendous individuals to our team after winter break, and Mr. Lennon got to return to only running the building. Then we were hit with more challenging news. Tindley Prep and Tindley Collegiate would be combining into one mixed gender school the next year. The new combined middle school would be taking Collegiate’s name, thus it was Tindley Prep’s ﬁnal year as a school.
“On those days we were tired, there was a restorative power to walking into the MPR every morning to pick up your class and know that the other adults in the room had your back and were working just as hard. Alone we would have collapsed, together we held the line.”
This announcement was difficult to hear, but I watched it only strengthen the resolve of our staff. I remember clearly a text conversation with another teacher where she declared that the school's last year was going to be its best year. This declaration translated into us holding the lines on our academics up until the end of the school year. To reward the boys for all of their hard work we took ﬁeld trips to colleges, Mexican restaurants, Camp Belzer, and hosted a culture day with video game stations, open gym, and food from the PTA. The last months of school had a special sense of urgency to them as we all tried to cram in as much as we could.
Although we faced substantial challenges throughout the school year, I would not trade my first-year teaching experience at Tindley Prep. I worked alongside some of the hardest working teachers, grew under their mentoring, and experienced ﬁrsthand the difﬁcult work that is required to achieve educational equity. I am excited to continue my work at the combined middle school next year for Tindley, but I will never forget the team I worked with at #ThePrep. Through them, I saw the power and importance of team in the continued march for a more equitable educational system.