Site Visit: San Miguel School Gary Comer Campus in Chicago

Comer Staff greeting students as they enter the building

Comer Staff greeting students as they enter the building

Jim Conti contributed this post — a visit to a site where  Inner City Teaching Corps (ICTC) of Chicago’s Volunteer Teaching Corps (VTC) members serve. Jim is the program’s Recruiting Coordinator and Associate Director.

For 18 years, the Inner-City Teaching Corps has placed highly excited and motivated recent college graduates in high-need, urban schools.  Though some schools have been partners for many years, the Inner-City Teaching Corps’s Volunteer Teaching Corps also searches out new placements for volunteer teachers.  One such partnership was established in 2007 and has had members of the Volunteer Teaching Corps ever since.  The character, identity, and make-up of the school are specific to this one placement, but the message and sense of hope are transferable to all other school placements.

San Miguel School – Gary Comer Campus is located on Chicago’s West-side, specifically within the Austin neighborhood.  The school and community are almost entirely African-American, with a small percentage of students and residents coming from a Hispanic background.  The neighborhood lies to the West of the Garfield Park and Humboldt Park neighborhoods, and to the East of Chicago’s first Western suburb, Oak Park.  For several years now, residents have been facing the loss of affordable housing as the surrounding neighborhoods continue to be re-gentrified and the identity of this proud neighborhood is transformed. Continue reading

Inner City Teaching Corps Volunteer Teachers Gear Up for the New School Year in Chicago

Brittorf (left) and Tiffany Watson are teachers with the Inner City Teaching Corps of Chicago

Pat Bittorf (left) and Tiffany Watson are teachers with the Inner City Teaching Corps of Chicago

Jim Conti contributed this post — an interview with two teachers in the Inner City Teaching Corps (ICTC) of Chicago‘s Volunteer Teaching Corps (VTC). Jim is the program’s Recruiting Coordinator and Associate Director.

It’s that time of year again! Retailers have penny sales on notebooks, pencils, and scissors. School buses are being swept out and shined up. The collective groan of school-age children can be heard across the country as the 2009-2010 school year starts up. As students dread the end of summer, teachers are gearing up for what promises to be a new and exciting year.

Tiffany Watson and Pat Bittorf, members of the Inner-City Teaching Corps’s Volunteer Teaching Corps, are no exceptions. Having graduated from the University of Scranton and Boston College respectively, Tiffany and Pat arrived in Chicago in early June to move into their community on Chicago’s south side.

After completing an intensive summer institute, they both stepped foot in St. Malachy Elementary School to face their new classrooms for the first time. Tiffany is teaching a self-contained second grade class while Pat has a sixth grade homeroom, where he teaches Reading and Religion, as well as instructing sixth through eighth grade Language Arts.

In the midst of classroom setup and the first few days of school, we sat down with these two new teachers to talk about where they are coming from, what’s going on now, and what might be in their future.

Jim: Good morning! Let’s start with something broad. What brought you to the classroom? Continue reading