Volunteering: Never a Dull Moment

by Admin / 16. February 2011 11:18

As an Augustinian Volunteer serving in Lawrence I was thrilled to discover that I would be serving in a school setting. During my college years, I would constantly ask the inevitable question “what career path do I want to pursue?” Very often the answer that came back to me was becoming a teacher. Needless to say I felt that this year of service would be a good barometer to determine whether I would enjoy a career in the education field. I have spent the last six months serving at St. Augustine School in Andover, Massachusetts. While my other community members have slipped into a daily routine, I can honestly say that this has not been the case for me. This is by no means a complaint but in fact one of the greatest joys of my service site.

St. Augustine School ranges from preschool to eighth grade. In many ways the school is very reminiscent to the Catholic grade school I attended in the 90s (except much cooler teachers). I remember my first day at my service site when I was finally told what my job would entail. I would be working in the school’s math lab helping struggling students. I was a bit shocked considering I was a history/political science major and had not taken a math class since freshman year in college. Consequently, I spent the first few days brushing up on the algebraic equations that I learned ten years ago. Some time during the first week, the assistant principal stopped me in the hall and said, “by the way, from time to time you be filling in for teachers that are out.” I nodded and said I would be happy to help in any way. I did not think much about this conversation due to the fact that I had been told that my job would strictly entail math.

By mid-September it became evident that my year of service would involve much more than math. My site supervisor quickly realized that I would be more useful to the school as the “in house” substitute teacher. Everyday when I walk into St. Augustine I can truly say I do not know what is in store for me. There are roughly 30 faculty members that work at St. Augustine so there is always a chance that someone will be out. During my time at St. Augustine, I have been a substitute for every grade level and all the integrated arts—computer, library, music, art, and gym. It is not uncommon for me to be in two or three completely different places in the span of one school day. In a given day, I could be filling in for the music teacher, teaching algebra, and helping four year olds with their shapes. When I talk with my community members after a long day of work, the question always comes, “so where were you today?” Although I still work in the math lab a large part of my time is spent filling in for teachers.

In any event, I consider the diversity I experience from day to day as the greatest joy of my service site. Although the job may sometimes feel overwhelming I love working at St. Augustine. I have also watched each teacher and staff member at St. A’s live their Catholic faith each and every day in the way they interact with the students and with each other.  I feel that all of these people have been an inspiration to me as I live and work in this community. Some of the teachers joke with me saying that I will have a heck of a resume when I leave St. A’s in June. With all the kidding aside they are exactly right. This year has taught me that serving God’s people comes in a variety of different forms, whether it be moderating a stock market club, teaching American History, or even playing Santa at Christmas.  When I leave Lawrence in June, I will surely take all of these experiences with me back to New Jersey.  All those that I have met will share a special place in my heart. I guess the teachers at St. A’s were right - I will have a “heck of a resume,” but better yet, these experiences are more than I could have hoped for and definitely more than one could put on any resume.

 

Dan Nicholas

Lawrence, MA 2010-2011 

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