Going Back to First Grade

Going Back to First Grade

Once you start college, the last thing you think about is going back to elementary school, but this semester I volunteered in a first-grade classroom, and the experience was amazing.


Once you start college, the last thing you think about is going back to elementary school if that's not your major. College student either love or hate little kids, and are far to busy to think about working with them for a consistent amount of time. As someone who always wanted to teach high school, I never thought that I would end up in an elementary school classroom. But this semester, I was able to volunteer in a Spanish Immersion Elementary school.

I volunteered in part because I was intrigued. I knew that I had no interest in teaching elementary schoolers, but I still agreed to work with them. I wanted to know what it looked like to teach elementary schoolers Spanish, especially since it's hard enough to teach small children English. I thought that maybe these kids would understand the same amount of Spanish that high schoolers do, but I was surprised to experience what I did.

The kids were so much smarter than I thought. Even those that possibly have a learning disability understand so much more than I thought they would when I speak to them. The hardest part of teaching them isn't that they don't understand the Spanish, it's keeping them on track or explaining the rules of certain games so they understand how to play it.

My first day, I was thrown into the chaos right after lunch. I was given an activity that I was then told to explain to the first graders in Spanish. When I left at the end of the day, I was exhausted but excited to continue to work with these kids and the teachers that I worked with.

The first couple of days I went, I was very confused. I didn't really know what I was doing, and I thought that the kids wouldn't understand me if I spoke English. Also, as with starting at every new school, I didn't really know what the school's rules were and what it was okay to say yes to.

One of the other student teachers described them as "little tornadoes" and I have never heard anything more accurate. They're sweet and thank you for working with them, but they also tend to destroy everything they touch. They try their best to learn and be careful, but it never goes perfectly. One day I painted with my students, and even when I was trying to tell them to keep the paints separate, by the end, it was just one big mixed color.

Now when I go, I'm super excited to work with my kids, and I love being able to learn more about how to teach younger children. I still don't want to teach elementary schoolers, but I do know that I've learned a lot from this experience, and I will take this with me in my future teaching experiences.

Through this experience, I've been able to learn more about my teaching style and other teaching styles. When you're working with small children, you have to have a lot of patience and be willing to reexplain instructions. This experience has caused me to be more patient because I know that these children are trying their best, and it's not going to help anyone if I yell at them.

It has also taught me a lot about children with learning disabilities. This semester, I'm taking an Introduction to Special Education class, and when I started the semester, I wasn't really sure how relevant to my career it would be. But now working with these students who are being diagnosed with learning disabilities, I am able to understand the lectures that I'm hearing and I can use some of the strategies that I'm learning in order to help my student's learning.

Most importantly, this semester has helped me accept some failure. I have a couple of students who struggle with getting their work done. Some of them recognize that they're not doing the work that they should, but they can't just focus. Others believe that they can get away without doing any work. While I can't force students to focus on their work, I know that I should work to motivate them as much as I can, and I can't let them just win and get what they want immediately. While there are some things I can control about what happens when I'm teaching, I know that some things are out of my control.

Working with students is so important to me, as a future educator. It's what I love to do, and it helps prepare me for my future. It has been so rewarding to work with these students, and it has taught me so much throughout the semester. I didn't think that I would enjoy working with elementary students, but I have loved it. When the semester is over, I'm going to miss my kids, but I'll always value the memories and experiences they've given me.

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For Camille, With Love

To my godmother, my second mom, my rooted confidence, my support


First grade, March. It was my first birthday without my mom. You through a huge party for me, a sleepover with friends from school. It included dress up games and making pizza and Disney trivia. You, along with help from my grandma, threw me the best birthday party a 7-year-old could possibly want.

During elementary school, I carpooled with you and a few of the neighborhood kids. I was always the last one to be dropped off, sometimes you would sneak a donut for me. Living next door to you was a blessing. You helped me with everything. In second grade, you helped me rehearse lines for history day so I could get extra credit. In 4th grade, you helped me build my California mission.

You and your sister came out to my 6th grade "graduation". You bought me balloons and made me feel as if moving onto middle school was the coolest thing in the entire world.

While you moved away from next door, you were a constant in my life. Going to Ruby's Diner for my birthday, seeing movies at the Irvine Spectrum and just hanging out, I saw you all the time. During these times, you told me about all of the silly things you did with my mom and dad, how my mom was your best friend. I couldn't have had a greater godmother.

In middle school, you pushed me to do my best and to enroll in honors. You helped me through puberty and the awkward stages of being a woman.

Every single time I saw you, it would light up my entire day, my week. You were more than my godmother, you were my second mom. You understood things that my grandma didn't.

When you married John, you included me in your wedding. I still have that picture of you, Jessica, Aaron and myself on my wall at college. I was so happy for you.

Freshmen year of high school, you told me to do my best. I did my best because of you. When my grandma passed away that year, your shoulder was the one I wanted to cry on.

You were there when I needed to escape home. You understood me when I thought no one would. You helped me learn to drive, letting me drive all the way from San Clemente to Orange.

When I was applying to colleges, you encouraged me to spread my wings and fly. You told me I should explore, get out of California. I wanted to study in London, you told me to do it. That's why, when I study abroad this Spring in London, I will do it for you.

When I had gotten into UWT, you told me to go there. I did and here I am, succeeding and living my best in Tacoma. I do it for you, because of you.

When I graduated high school and I was able to deliver a speech during our baccalaureate, you cheered me on. You recorded it for me, so I could show people who weren't able to make it to the ceremony. You were one of the few people able to come to my actual graduation. You helped me celebrate the accomplishments and awards from my hard work.

When your cancer came back, I was so worried. I was afraid for you, I was afraid of what I would do without the support you had always given me. When I was in Rome, I went to the Vatican and had gotten a Cross with a purple gem in the middle blessed by the Pope to help you with your treatments. It was something from me and a little bit of my mom in the necklace, the gem.

Now, sitting so far from you away at college just like you wanted me to. I miss you. I wish I was there to say goodbye.

I'll travel the world for you, write lots of stories and books for you, I will live life to the fullest for you.

You are another angel taken too early in life. Please say hello to my parents and grandma in Heaven for me.

Lots of love,


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ASU Students Push For A Healthier Dining Hall To Counter 'Freshman 15' Fears

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap.


Arizona State University students are pushing for change within the downtown Phoenix dining hall as they strive to avoid the infamous freshman 15.

The downtown Phoenix campus offers fewer dining options than the Tempe campus and has a less appetizing dining hall. The freshman 15 is a common scare among students living in the dorms, who are often freshman.

The freshman 15 is defined as a student who gains 15 pounds or more in their first year of college. Studies prove the average freshman does not exercise the right amount, is sleep deprived, has a poor diet, increases their stress level, alcohol consumption, and fatty food intake, which is most likely causing their weight gain.

Lauren Hernandez

Daniella Rudoy, a journalism major and fitness instructor at the SDFC, relived her freshman year as she provided tips for incoming freshman.

"There are a lot of workouts you can do in your dorm room as long as you have access to YouTube or a floor. You can go on a run, a walk, or do exercises that do not require equipment," Rudoy said in support of college fitness.

Rudoy said that mental health, fitness, and nutrition all correlate with one another.

"I follow the saying abs are made in the kitchen. So if you are working out day and night, but eating a giant pizza and chicken wings with a pack of beer when you come home you aren't doing yourself much good," Rudoy said.

Lauren Hernandez

The main cause for weight gain is increased alcohol consumption. 80 percent of college students drink and this includes binge drinking, which is unhealthy for many reasons.

Students who do not drink are most likely gaining weight because of their exposure to an all-you-can-eat dining hall. The downtown Phoenix campus offers a salad bar as their only consistent healthy option for students, therefore students are left eating hamburgers, fries, and pizza.

"I haven't been to the dining hall this semester. Last semester, I went because I had no other options. I am a vegetarian and the dining hall is not accommodating to those with allergies or food restrictions. I find it very difficult to find vegetarian options," Lexi Varrato, a journalism major said.

Lauren Hernandez

Varrato explained that she believes the freshman 15 is "100 percent real" and that incoming freshman should research their meal plans and ask their school how their dietary restrictions will be accommodated before purchasing a non-refundable meal plan.

Megan Tretter, a nursing major at Seattle University emphasized that not every dining hall is like ASU's and that the freshman 15 is "definitely not a problem" at her school.

"I always eat healthy at my dining hall. There are a lot of good and healthy options at Seattle University. I usually go to the smoothie line in the morning, have a salad for lunch, and make myself an acai bowl after work with avocado toast in our floor's kitchen," Tretter said in support of her school's strive for healthy options.

College students across the United States have healthier dining options than ASU, but many colleges still face the same problems that students here are facing.

Tara Shultz, a journalism major at ASU believes she has avoided the "very real" freshman 15 by living at home.

"I believe the freshman 15 targets dorm residence and first-year students who do not live at home as they do not have their parents as a guide and are forced to eat at a dining hall that only serves fatty foods," Shultz emphasized.

Lauren Hernandez

The downtown Phoenix campus offers students access to the SDFC, YMCA, and Taylor Place gym, where students can take group fitness classes, run on a track, play basketball, or swim. Alternative options for students are purchasing a membership at Orangetheory or EOS Fitness.

Most students agreed with journalism major Vanessa Gonzalez that they have little time to work out due to their workload, but many students like Varrato, Tretter, and Rudoy explained that they try to work out every day as it is a stress reliever and it enriches their mental health.

Steve Fiorentino, the owner of Powered Up Nutrition encourages college students to learn what they are putting in their bodies.

"I think it starts with nutrition. Students believe they can outwork a bad diet and I believe that is their number one mistake. My advice is to stop eating fast foods and start eating whole and healthy foods along with supplements," Fiorentino stated.

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap. The campus dining hall is not always the reason to blame as students have the option to decrease their meal plans, become active, and make healthy choices!

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