Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My letter to MNDOE

It needs help right now, but with a little work, it will be up and running in no time. This is to prove that my service year actually did meet the blasted Human Relations requirement for the state licensing board and I can finally be certified to teach in this state.

July 7, 2009

Dear Licensing Board,

I am writing to inform you about the program with which [full name] served to complete her term with AmeriCorps and also to inform you of its potential match with the Human Relations component for Minnesota Teaching Licensure. The program that [full name] completed was called City of Lakes AmeriCorps and it is a partnership between Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis Community Education, and other local community organizations.

The Minnesota Human Relations requirement, a state mandate, was certainly fulfilled in the process of Jennifer completing her term of service with the City of Lakes AmeriCorps program.

First, City of Lakes AmeriCorps requires all of its members to understand the contributions and lifestyles of the various racial, cultural and economic groups in our society. Jennifer completed over 1700 hours of service tutoring and mentoring students during the day, and facilitating after school activities at Nellie Stone Johnson community school in a culturally diverse and urban region of north Minneapolis. Jennifer served students on her caseload from a variety of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds including but not limited to students in the African American and Hmong communities of north Minneapolis. Much of Jennifer’s time was spent preparing lessons and teaching English language learners with the reading and writing workshop approach to literacy instruction. Jennifer also spent her time tutoring third-fifth-grade students performing significantly below grade level in both reading and mathematics.

Second, City of Lakes AmeriCorps requires members to recognize and deal with dehumanizing biases, discrimination, and prejudices that face students enrolled in Minneapolis Public Schools. The students of Nellie Stone Johnson were undoubtedly faced with biases and prejudices daily simply because of their family’s race and socioeconomic status. Many students on Jennifer’s caseload lacked the family support needed to succeed in school. Much of Jennifer’s duties during her term of service required her to remove biases she possessed about students living in poverty in order to best motivate students to succeed with their coursework.

Third, the City of Lakes AmeriCorps program requires all of its members to create learning environments that contribute to the self-esteem of all persons and to positive interpersonal relations while respecting human diversity and personal rights. Jennifer completed this requirement by establishing a positive rapport with three students assigned to her fifth-grade guided reading group. Although these students were reading three grade levels below their own in reading, Jennifer sought books for these students that were of high interest and adequate reading level to motivate them when their self-esteem slumped because of their achievement level. Combating student’s low expectations for themselves was a daily task, but with a few reminders, her students jumped a grade level in reading by the end of the year and were much more positive about what they could achieve in their academic and personal futures.

Finally, the City of Lakes AmeriCorps program requires members to study the American Indian language, history, government, and culture by participating in a service project in conjunction with the Ojibwe Indian Tribe in Red Lake, Minnesota.


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