'Ohana Means Family

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 10 2012

The beginning of Ms. Tarka’s ’0hana

When I was 12 (almost 13!) a Disney movie came out in theaters that my family would embrace as our own- Lilo and Stitch. I’m not sure if it is as big of a movie as we make it out to be, but it’s huge for us. The underlying theme that is repeated throughout the movie is, ” ‘Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind… or forgotten”. My family has moved a lot throughout my life, I went to three different middle schools and three separate high schools. My older and younger sisters each experienced this, respectively (my younger brother, he’s the baby, went to five different elementary schools and two middle schools; he started a new high school in a city across the country as a freshman and he is currently in the same high school as a Junior- soon to be senior) . Luckily for me though, my younger sister skipped a grade so two of the high schools I attended with her. When you move a lot, family is what keeps you strong. Now that I am embarking on this grand journey to teach middle school, an age group that has- until recently- terrified me, it makes me think back to  my middle school days. It seems appropriate then, that I should incorporate ‘Ohana in to my classroom. I will let my students know that no one is going to get left behind, but as a family I will expect a lot out of them, and they should expect a lot from me.

I started the pre-institute work the week before Spring Break, but have yet to put a considerable dent in to it. I have read many of the articles (some even overlapped with my Race, Culture, and Development psychology class this semester). Over Spring Break I read Teaching as Leadership, completely engulfed and fascinated while finding myself nodding along in agreement. I have wanted to join Teach For America for the past year, was fortunate enough to be accepted at the first deadline, and now with less than 25 days (not counting…) until graduation, I am so close to seeing a classroom of MY students.

Sure, there is some (okay, a great deal of) anxiety but I think that if I can get through working, going to school full time, and swimming double practices daily with at least one, sometimes two, meets on weekends, just thinking about teaching and working with Teach for America makes me really excited. And when I say excited, I mean it’s an adrenaline rush. I know it’s going to be hard, but I love a good challenge. The more that people tell me ‘good luck’ with a smirk and a chuckle, the more enthused I become. I have worked at the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco and the Boys & Girls Club of Huntington which made me realize the impact of the achievement gap plaguing the nation.

The hiring fair is this weekend in Indianapolis and I have already looked up different IPS schools and charter schools in the placement region. I am a planner, it’s bound to come out, that it calms me to have a plan, to research, to have an idea of what is to come. I think it comes from moving so much, it was nice to know what to expect, though reality was rarely completely intuned with what I had imagined. Spontaneity can be grand too, but I would really enjoy knowing EXACTLY where (and what…) I’ll be teaching in the next year.

I’m not going to make any promises on how frequently I will be posting. In the next couple weeks, between final papers and institute pre-work, I do not plan to post much;  however, I do like the release that writing gives so I will probably post more once induction and institute begin.

Back to the pre-work I go…


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and Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten

Middle School

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