I went to Tufts University’s indoor track today to watch my fiance run in the alumni “Has Beens” mile in a meet against Coast Guard Academy, MIT, UMass Boston, and more. While waiting for his race to start, I watched various heats of the women’s and men’s mile. As the runners in heat 2 of the men’s mile sped by, I heard a kid behind me yell “Go Charles!” To my surprise, the Charles in question was one of my former students (JQUS ’12), now running for Bridgewater State University.
Still learning how to take selfies; had to get out of the way of the 60m hurdles
He finished in 5:36.
That’s about a 2 minute improvement over what he was running for a one-mile loop around Boston Common two years ago…amazing! We caught up for a bit, and he introduced me to his coach and one of the teammates who has helped him improve so much this season. It was so wonderful to see him with his team. I’m so proud of him!
This is one of the great joys of being a teacher at JQUS. Our teachers love to create and advise after-school clubs (Advisory Student Council, Zumba, Chess Club, Recycling, Girls Group, ARTifacts, Cooking, and even Wrestling, which is a thriving varsity sports program competitive at the state level). As a pilot school, we have a requirement to work 50 more hours than regular Boston Public Schools teachers, but I think most of us end up devoting much more than that to the school community. In turn, we are rewarded with the joys of getting to know such awesome kids and to help them along their academic and extracurricular journeys. I didn’t get to teach Charles math at all during his time at JQUS, but I got to know him extremely well from the time I first joined Running Club to the last race he did with the team in June 2012. Lots of conversations happen over mile repeats on the Boston Common, runs along the Charles River, and strength training in the school. Well…maybe not during a tough mile repeat but certainly along the jog back to school 🙂 Additionally, though Running Club wasn’t an official varsity sport, it still provided him with experience and access to a collegiate sport. I hope we can continue bringing that experience and access to more of our students.
I’m looking forward to the return of Running Club this April!
A wise soul once told me to keep my eye on the small victories in teaching–those “smile file” moments that warm your heart and solidify that “yes, *this* is why I’m a teacher” feeling. In spite of the repeated 5:30 a.m. call of the iPhone Harp alarm, the frustrations of lessons gone awry, and the gallons of iced coffee consumed, these small victories keep me going.
In October 2009, my colleagues invited me to come to Franklin Park for the JQUS cross-country team’s last practice of the season. As a second-year teacher, I hadn’t yet considered taking on any extracurricular activities beyond the scope of my calculus, pre-calculus, ESL, and advisory classes, but I still kept up my running as a stress reliever for all my grading and lesson planning. At the time, the team was comprised of 9th-11th grade boys (the lone girl had quit by the time October rolled around), so I paired up with a self-identified “slow” one to run the Franklin Park course before the team gathered for a pizza party at a coach’s house nearby. I immediately loved being a part of the energetic environment and a shared love of running with fellow teachers and students. I didn’t realize then that I’d caught the coaching bug and would continue coaching to this day. I also didn’t realize a few of the gawky 9th graders there that day would become the core of the JQUS Running Club over the next few years.
Two of the coaches left JQUS the next year, and the remaining coach asked me to join the team. We changed the focus from trying to get other schools to let us join their cross-country dual meets to asking our school to fund a few local road races for our students. We applied for a grant from Jordan Fundamentals and received $5000 for race registrations, shirts, and equipment. More and more students began to join, including classmates of those first 9th graders. We signed them up for races such as the Mayor’s Cup 5K, the Superhero 5K, the Battle of Bunker Hill 8K, and the BAA 10K. Though many students dropped out of the Running Club, a dedicated group flourished. They ran together in rain and heat, pushing each other through hill repeats and on longer river runs. One of those students started in fall 2010, and he went from 10 minute miles to earning age group prizes in local 5Ks. Looking back, I should have predicted his success based on his tireless work ethic in my math class, with the IB Diploma Programme, and his other extracurricular activities.
This student became the class of 2012 valedictorian and ended up going to Boston College–a lofty achievement accomplished by very few students before him. Before he graduated, he mentioned that he’d like to run the Boston Marathon someday.
That someday is now.
His fundraising page for the Boston College Campus School popped up in my news feed today. I’ve seen many of these fundraising pages from Cambridge Running Club teammates and runner friends from Virginia–lots of whom have years of running experience and multitudes of races under their belts. It’s so amazing to see this student, who ran his first 5K a little over two years ago, ready to take on the daunting challenge of this historic course on his way to the “right on Hereford, left on Boylston” turn to the finish.
I can’t wait to give him a high-five as he runs past mile 24 on Marathon Monday.
Today Tufts Medical school students (Melody and Dave) held auditions for the JQUS a cappella group. The group used my classroom for the auditions, so I sat in the corner observing while I typed up an awards ceremony program. One of my favorite students (let’s call her Little Sally) came in to audition because her friends kept bugging her to join. She was extremely nervous and claimed to be a bad singer, so she had a hard time starting. Melody and Dave did a fake audition for her, and we offered to turn away (and I offered to stick my fingers in my ears). She agreed to sing after Dave turned away and Melody and I were “backup” dancers (dancing in front of her so we wouldn’t make eye contact). I began my usual repertoire of ridiculous dance moves, and was so amazed to hear Little Sally burst into a passionate rendition of Maroon 5’s “Payphone.” It took the most guts for her to do that, and it was such an inspiration.
One other takeaway: Melody and Dave’s positivity was absolutely infectious. They were so kind to all the students and welcomed everyone regardless of singing ability. I loved seeing them interact with the kids…we are so lucky to have them.