There are apples to keep the doctor away, Apple computers, apples to pick and apples to eat. However, the best apples, in my opinion, are the ones that should be given to the teachers at St. Augustine Elementary School in Andover, MA.
As the AV at St. Augustine, I serve in a jack-of-all-trades type of role. I’m a full time substitute teacher, a before and after school care program assistant, a math enrichment tutor, and, when I’m not doing any of that, I help in the preschool. No two days are the same, which is something I love, but has definitely made for a challenging transition. After all, apart from my work as a biology tutor and TA during undergrad, I have no formal teaching experience, which makes jumping into life at a 450-student nursery through eighth grade school pretty crazy at times. In a single day, I can go from making letter B crafts with the nursery students, to teaching fourth graders about natural resources, to helping seventh graders with their math homework. Fortunately, I have all of the teachers at St. Augustine’s to learn from and to lean on. The St. Augustine faculty members (as well as the entire student body) have all been incredibly welcoming. They have taken time out of their busy days to give me tours of the school, to help me with lesson plans, to give me color coded schedules and even arrange for me to get a flu shot. I’ve learned tricks to remember students’ names, to command attention in the classroom without coming off as overbearing, and to rephrase my requests in a positive way. Whenever I am substitute teaching, faculty members from across the school will pop their head in to the classroom or will sit down with me in the teachers’ lounge to check in on my day and lend me tidbits as to the best teaching methods, what to do during recess duty, and how to work the classroom technology. In a way, I am also a student of St. Augustine Elementary School—a student of the teaching profession, of flexibility, of the behind the scenes work that goes into successfully running a school.
Not only have the teachers helped me with my transition into life at work, they also helped me transition into life in Massachusetts. A sixth grade teacher told me about the cheapest places to go grocery shopping and the best farms for apple picking. The nursery school teacher gave me a list of fun things to do in Boston that my community members and I are eager to explore. I learned about the infamous rivalry between Heavenly Donuts and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as why locals are so loyal to the supermarket called MarketBasket. I watched Good Will Hunting for the first time (and immediately added it to my list of all-time favorite movies) after hearing from a fellow after school program assistant that it is a Bostonian classic and, in a similar fashion, was told to never, ever insult the Patriots, the Red Sox, or any other Boston sports team if I value my well-being.
When I was younger, it was a tradition at my elementary school to bring in apples for your teacher every fall to show your appreciation for them. Perhaps I will have to implement this tradition once more, bringing in apples to all of my new teachers at St. Augustine. I am lucky that I have found such a community, not only in my fellow Lawrence AVs, but in the family that is the St. Augustine Elementary School.
Lawrence, MA 2017-2018