Michelle Diaz, elementary education foundations major and racial justice in urban schooling minor (RJUS), talks about what she learned from high school students through her service learning placement.
What drove you to enroll in the RJUS minor program?
I enrolled in the minor after taking CI 3101 “Issues in Urban Education” as a recommendation from my advisor. The course material was extremely interesting and left me wanting more. I was easily able to relate the topics learned to other courses I took for my major in elementary education. Overall, I think it goes hand in hand with my major.
Which part of the program have you found the most valuable?
So far I have found the service-learning experience the most valuable. While taking CI 3101 I was placed in a high school after-school program where I had some of the most meaningful and engaging conversations about current issues in society and education in urban schools. The group of high schoolers and cooperating teacher I worked with were extremely passionate about team building, empowerment, and creating future leaders. They welcomed me into their group and taught me that age does not matter when it comes to creating awareness. It is definitely an experience I will never forget.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to find a job at a school in the city. I also plan on returning to the U to complete my master’s degree.
What do you hope to get out of the minor?
The most important thing I hope to get out of this minor is understanding how to be sensitive with issues that could be affecting my future students’ lives outside of my classroom. It will help me create meaningful relationships with my students and their families to be educated on these issue so I understand where they are coming from and if there is anything I can do to make their experience in my classroom the best possible.
Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?
My experience so far with not only the courses, but also the service learning component in the minor, have been great. I think it really helps to volunteer at a school while learning about issues in urban schooling because you get firsthand experience. I also think that these courses and the minor are great for everyone that will be either in the education fields or simply a part of the urban community. It truly is a great minor for all who are interested in racial justice.