EVAULUATION Reeves Middle School ALKI Alternative Program, Summer 2000
Emily worked for 10 weeks with seven students from our newly formed alternative program at Reeves Middle School. She met with the students 2 hours a day, twice a week. The students were chosen for the class based on their interest in being part of a writing/drama group and our decision, as teachers, as to who would benefit from the more intimate class structure Emily was able to provide. Emily worked with the challenges of teaching space (the group had to make space in the corner of the school lobby for their class), the newness of the alternative program (this is our first year in existence) and students who were just meeting one another for the first time (except for the sisters, which is another challenge in itself!). I mention these things because I think it is a testimony to Emily’s skills as a facilitator/mentor that she was able to form a base of trust with these students so quickly given these challenges. The rapport Emily built with the students was sustained and strengthened throughout the 10 weeks. One student lent particular challenges to the group and Emily was very willing to be part of a meeting with the student, his parent and us, the teachers. She brought insight and support and clearly placed the responsibility of continuation in the group on the shoulders of the student. He rose to the challenge, completed the 10 weeks and was profoundly effected by his participation in this writing experience. On the occasions that I had a chance to witness the group in action, I saw students actively engaged in discussions, writing passionately, drawing, painting, laughing, reading and writing some more. Even when Emily was not able to be there, the group met and continued with the assignments that Emily had laid out for them. Emily had laid such good ground work that the students were able to sustain a lively, focused, respectful and interesting discussion on religion for two hours without Emily or another adult facilitator. My only role was to be present in the room. After working with Emily, the students were often excited to share their writing with us and other students in the program. They were writing about things that were important to them and they wanted others to share in their experience. I was greatly moved by the power of their words at the open mic performance. This opportunity to share their work with the greater community was a powerful way to bring this class to a close. The students had things to say and said them well. I thank Emily for all she did to make this possible. I have no doubt that the students will hold this writing experience close to their hearts and it will continue to inform their development as writers and thinkers well into the future.
Holly Berchet-Hall, Alternative Program Teacher
Dear Emily, I feel like Iâ€šve really gotten a lot out of the class this year. I’ve been a lot more aware of gender discrimination, racism etc. ever since we started talking about it, and how it affects individuals/society. It makes me feel good that I can understand that kind of thing and rise above ignorance and give my opinion, not just follow along with the majority or only do what other people would think of as cool or normal. I don’t know if what Iâ€šm saying makes sense, but I hope that it does. I just remembered Kelseyâ€šs amazing poem about how hard it is to express what on your mind, and I really know how she feels. Iâ€šm really going to miss this class.
Keep in touch
Love, Ben (8th grade)
November 17, 1999