Patrice Wakeley

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    Question: Evaluate a significant experience or achievement that has special meaning to you.

    Answer: My  education and background is different from every other person at my school, but one thing we have in common is that we know we are going to college. Every kid I work with in the East Oakland Youth Development Center’s (EOYDC) summer program can’t say that they are going to college. They can’t even say they will make it through high school.

    For the last two summers I have worked as a Director in the EOYDC summer youth program. This program is for all children, but most that attend are from a part of Oakland’s inner city that is characterized by high crime and low achievement in it’s schools. This program is designed as a summer camp, but it is free to its participants and is focused on developing the children physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    The summer youth program also keeps kids off the street who are home alone during the daytime without supervision. This program gives a safe, positive place to go where they can increase their chances of making it in the world by participating in art projects, reading, and writing, sports, and computer skills. The program is for kids five to thirteen years of age, and the counselors and directors of the program are all young adults in high school or college.

    This program has become special to me because it has given me the opportunity to interact with children of different backgrounds and it has inspired me to pursue my dream teaching. Every child I worked with presented a different challenge. Some of the kids were reading way below their grade level and had trouble spelling simple words. I helped them write stories, poems, and descriptive paragraphs. Many were hesitant to read their work out loud, but with positive encouragement they became more confident in themselves and their work. It made me feel satisfied to know that I had impacted their lives in a positive way.

    I’ve had the opportunity and good fortune to travel to several parts of the world. Many of the kids I worked with at the Center have never been outside their own neighborhood. For them our weekly field trips across the bridges and onto “foreign” places was something new and exciting. I learned that teaching happens not only in the classroom but in the world around us every day.

    Working with these kids has inspired me to continue my education to obtain the skills needed to become a quality educator. I hope someday to become the kind of teacher that will change at least one child’s life in a positive way.

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