Grant Benefiel ’16 – When I first thought about teaching in Chicago, I was very nervous. I have seen movies and television shows that depict Chicago schools as dangerous and violent. With those first initial impressions, my view on Chicago was narrow. After my initial visit, my view on Chicago changed. I felt there were few differences between Kelly High School and my High School. Besides the fact that my high school contained mostly Caucasian students and Kelly High School contained mostly Hispanic and Asian students, there were few differences. I did notice that the students wore see-through backpacks and had to go through metal detectors before going to class. Security is a big deal at Kelly High School and they have kept the school safe and comfortable.
After meeting my host teacher, I knew Kelly was special. I could tell the way my teacher would interact with the students that this was more than just school grounds. Kelly High School was home to many students. The teachers interacted with the students as if they were their own children. The teachers at Kelly High School care about their students.
Our school is located in a Hispanic neighborhood. I have been able to safely travel around the neighborhood and eat at local restaurants. I can see that the school and community get along very well. While I was wearing my “student observer” name tag, one of the waitress proceeded to tell me that her son attended there and told me to make sure he was acting responsibly. Instances like that show me that the community and school have an incredible relationship.
Being able to experience this immersion trip, I now have a better grasp of urban education. I have been shown how to care for students and to teach in an urban setting. I understand now the difficulties and complications that arise while teaching a school of over two-thousand students. I have also been taught what it means to be a community. Kelly High School and this immersion program have shown me the beautiful side of Chicago and urban education.