In an effort to better understand the Upper School student experience by grade level, I am experiencing "a day in the life" of four students over the course of this school year. I started with a 12th grader and am following with 11th, 10th, and 9th graders throughout the year. In selecting students to shadow, I consulted with grade-level Deans of Students and Lead Advisors with a focus toward an interesting and well-rounded class schedule. I meet individually with each student beforehand to see if he/she is interested and to select the best date. I am sure to let teachers know in advance so they aren’t surprised by my presence. Again, my purpose is to simply experience a typical day for a student. My hope is to disrupt the classes as little as possible. I see these experiences as informing the work that I do - potential to share insights with faculty, admin, parents, and/or students about the student experience at the Upper School.
Thursday, November 7, 2019 (regular Thursday schedule, so 50 minute classes)
Ayana Richburg, 11th grade
4th Period - Current Issues with Ms. Ferguson - Ayana was the only girl in this fascinating elective course focused on the hot topics of the day. Students gave short oral presentations about issues ranging from education in Somalia to gender inequalities in Saudi Arabia. I could have stayed here all day sipping coffee and soaking in all the knowledge. As we make our way to her next class, Ayana shares that she really enjoys discussing these topics!
5th Period - Spanish III with Mrs. Kotrady - Another round of presentations in this class! This time I hear student groups presenting Spanish poems with visual aids. All of the students are so supportive of one another and perform beautifully. Once the poems are complete, we move on to a worksheet review and a discussion of what is coming up.
Break - I give Ayana some space during her 10 minute break period, then meet her back in Ms. Ferguson’s room again...
W Period - AP European History with Ms. Ferguson - Class starts with some excitement as the students draw partners for their “coffeehouse” the following week in which everyone will come as various figures from the Enlightenment. Ms. Ferguson is clear to say the focus should not be on dressing up as these historical figures, but rather on embodying these people’s roles/opinions during the Enlightenment!
X Period - Human Anatomy & Physiology with Mr. Whited - This large class of juniors and seniors begins by grading their own quizzes and discussing answers together. Then, Mr. Whited launched into the next chapter about different types of joints. Such an interesting topic with help from some great visual aids including a skeleton!
Lunch - Again, I decide not to torture Ayana by sitting at lunch with her!
1st Period - English III with Mr. Jacobssen - Having just completed several chapters of Sing, Unburied, Sing, the students divide up into groups for discussions. Students then report back to the class some takeaways from this intense book. I have added it to my must-read list!
2nd Period - Ayana has a free period, so she heads off to get some work done. I head to a meeting, then sheepishly arrive late to the last period of the day...
3rd Period - Algebra II with Mrs. Kilian - Ahh, I’m late!!! I slink into a desk in the back as students are working on matrix problems using their calculators. Surely I have never done this in school! I end the day feeling very confused, but relieved that Ayana and all of Mrs. Kilian’s students are not confused.
Another whirlwind of a day in the life of a student! I mean, it took me three months to even write about it. Thanks so much to Ayana Richburg, all of her wonderful teachers, and fellow classmates for welcoming me into this 11th grade world for a few hours. Again, I finished the school day simultaneously exhilarated and exhausted. How will a 10th grader’s day compare? Stay tuned.