A Day in the Life of a GGA Student

My name is Ashley and I am in 9th grade and 14 years old.  My parents divorced 3 years ago and I get shuttled between two houses.  Well, they are more like opposing camps because they argue or talk about each other.  I am like the referee or the peacekeeper and I’m the daughter. 

Sometimes I leave stuff at my mom or my dad’s house by accident and then I don’t have it for the rest of the week.  I really hate it when I leave stuff for school. Sometimes I am tired when I got to school and sometimes I’m angry. I don’t like being looked at like the angry black girl, but they don’t see me like that.  I get to calm down at 8:00 am through mindful movement with everyone else in the MPR and start my day right. We are learning Tai Chi and Ms. Karen does her cheer claps, EVERY TIME when we finish. It’s cool though.  She is proud of all of us for sticking with it and it is helping with my stress. They know what goes on at home and how much responsibility I have on me when my parents are not home in the evenings. 

At 8:10 am, I chat with some of the girls I met and check in with my advisory teacher on time-management and organizational skills.  He listens when we check in and I appreciate that.  I am the oldest of three kids and I have become the third parent to my younger sister and brother.  How am I supposed to get my work done for school when I am busy helping them? I do get time at GGA to complete some homework assignments and get help on work that I don’t get. The motto at GGA is “Because YOU Matter”.  I feel important. Ms. Swift did a home visit and we have been all talking about work life balance and managing stress. I mean we are all talking about it. Parents, teachers, students, and community members. We all stressed out!  LOL

I’m asking for help and raising my hand.  One student said a question I asked was stupid and the class backed me up and reminded her of the norms we made together at the beginning of the year.  The teacher supported the class, me, and her. We also had a discussion about our school wide pillars. Sisterhood is important and so is safety. Everyone has to feel comfortable in class to ask questions. We are sisters not by blood, but we should support each other even when we make mistakes.  We’ve been learning that you can make mistakes and learn from them.

What do I find interesting at school?  A lot! Our first unit for the quarter is about identity.  We are exploring identity in all of our classes, through advisory, and through our LEADership Academy on Wednesdays.  At 8:38 am, I go to English and we are reading the Joy Luck Club. I’m not Chinese, but I can understand the issues in the book.  I get to use my Chromebook and there are tools to help me with the vocabulary in the book and I can listen to the book. Mahjong is like spades in black culture!  We are going to write our own narratives about identity. So even though I am “home-grown” from DC, I understand better what immigrants go through. I see it kinda like being Black and female in America.  We have talked about “intersectionality”.

At 10:01 I go to Algebra and our teacher asked us what are some things that we hear or say about ourselves when it comes to math.  The class was not silent on this one but there was a lot of negative stuff…We took all that negative stuff…what we thought about ourselves in math and our teacher said we were going to reconnect to math in a different way and use different words to describe how we relate to math. She said we can “reshape our math identities” She said that we have some priority questions and we were going to search for answers. These two stuck out to me:  How do I need to learn math to be prepared for my personal and professional goals? What kind of math person am I?

At 11:51 We also have this thing called Genius Time and we get to learn about anything we want.  First thought was….FREE TIME! Well, it is not free time, but I like it. We learned about how we should use our Genius Time, of course we created norms AGAIN, and learned about something called ‘digital curation’ and I chose Flipboard out of the tools that was suggested.  I even put the app on my phone. What am I doing with Flipboard? I am “curating” stuff about dance. Stuff means articles, videos, and images. The only catch is I have to review and write about what I curate first before I drop it in my digital magazine. It’s shared with my Genius teacher so he can see my progress and with other girls in my class who have an interest in dance. They have been commenting on my stuff!

At 12:24 pm I go to either the introduction course for engineering or business.  I have the whole year to figure out which path I will take. It’s September soooooo I have no idea!  Both teachers are making sure we get that we can be in these fields. We are learning the design process and it is something I can use every day.  I have kinda been doing that in my dancing. hmmmm…

At 1:47 pm I go to French.  My GGA French teacher is pretty dope.  She makes things fun but you still learn a lot. I am learning about Josephine Baker.  I think she was an awesome woman.  Do you know she made a citizen’s arrest in 1951 of a white man who didn’t want to eat in the same restaurant as her? She was a straight boss in Europe and they didn’t like her here in the States because she was black.  With Josephine Baker we learned, French, history, art, fashion. I might have to look her up on Flipboard next time in Genius hour. 

I am looking forward to “LEADership Academy” (that is what they call it here). Service-learning is not what I thought it would be.  We are exploring the UN Global Goals. I haven’t made up my mind yet which three are the most important to me. I really like #3 though because it is about health and wellbeing. That one speaks to me! Ms. Brown reminded me of how Tai Chi is like dancing and I can maybe design a project using dance.  My classmate that called my question stupid? You remember her? She wants to work with me on the project. She knows different dances and I am the hip hop queen. Maybe we could learn different dances from around the world and teach them to people. I am not sure yet. We are still in the ‘investigation’ phase.  Everybody knows that I love dance. I talk about it any chance I get and the teachers are ok with that. They want to know what I like to do.

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