I Haven’t Worked A Single Day This Year

I Haven’t Worked A Single Day This Year

To say that my very first day at LCA was a whirlwind is perhaps the understatement of the year. I was under the impression that I would be working directly with kids, but I was told that there was a need for me to be in the front office answering parent phone calls for the first few weeks, and so that is where I would be doing most of my service unless they said otherwise. Two different teachers asked me what colleges I was considering going to next year as if I was a high school senior. The rest of the teachers seemingly did not understand my role at school until I said I was “the new Brittany”, the AV at LCA last year. One boy in the after school program told me he did not have to listen to me because I was not a real teacher. I was as close to that “freshman who eats lunch in the bathroom stall” as you can get.

Something changed, though, and I couldn’t tell you what it was. Maybe it was the honest and candid conversations that I’ve had with teachers on the way to field trips. Perhaps it was helping a student work through addition problems, and seeing the smile radiate from his face when he got the questions right. It could have been sitting at the dinner table with my community members, simply talking about how our day went and seeing that they too had similar struggles and successes that day. No matter what the reason for this change, I know now that this is exactly where I should be.

I know I am truly blessed for the simple fact that going into work everyday is my favorite part of the day. I have been working with the nursery students (age 3) a lot for the past three weeks, and that has been a blessing beyond anything else. Here I was, a stranger to them, but they were already attacking me with hugs on the playground and innocently walking up next to me as if they had a question, just to tap me on the leg and say, “Tag! You’re it!”. Working with the nursery kids has also given me some much needed street cred with the teachers. Whenever others see me working with them, they give me a sincere “Oh God bless you for it” and say they could never do that because they feel as they are not teaching but babysitting. I disagree, and say that they are the ones that are teaching me things on a daily basis. They teach me the importance of forgiveness. One girl came up to me, in tears, and said another girl took her toy and said they were no longer best friends. I told them both, honestly only half paying attention to them at the moment, that they should apologize to each other and keep playing. They did just that, and were holding hands in the playground not even ten minutes later. While this may be partly credited to the ¬†average attention span of a three year old, there is still an awe-inspiring innocence in this.

Recently, when people ask me what my favorite part of my job is, I try hard not to keep rambling for half an hour. I have felt so welcome both by those making a conscious effort to do so, be it the Augustinians or the greater community, as well as the kids at school who have no idea the impact their smiles and high fives make. Do I tell them about about the great staff, or perhaps the incredibly smart and funny students? Maybe the parents who are so invested in seeing their children receive a quality Catholic education?

To save people my long winded rambling, when someone asks me my favorite part about my job, I will simply say that the greatest joy lies in it not feeling like work at all.

Derik Velasco
Lawrence, MA 2015-2016

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