Posts Tagged ‘Work-Internships-Volunteering’

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Biking from the Park to the Job

Biking from the Park to the Job

by Christopher Lassiter

chrislassiter

The first moment on the job deceives me. I glance around the deserted High Gear Cyclery shop, wondering if keeping myself occupied will be more of a challenge than selling bikes.

I meet Bill, my manager. He smells of cigarettes and coffee when I am within arm’s reach. He shares the basics of advising bikers on nutrition and repairs. Still no customers. His need for nicotine runs high. He exits for a smoke. As Bill puffs outside, a flood of customers enters:

“Can you fix my flat tire?”

“I am looking for a new bike. Can you help?”

I am a nervous and stressed 14-year-old fielding questions from people twice my age, and I love it. Ironically, or maybe not, my first time on a bike is one of my first memories.   

I was four when Pops walked me to the neighborhood basketball court pulling a bike with training wheels for me, while my older brother Jordan rode a two-wheeler. Jordan took a break and I hopped on the two-wheeler while Pops was not looking. After peddling a few feet, I fell. He rushed over. “Are you ok? ” I rose, brushing gravel from my skimmed hand, and persistently pleaded to ride the two-wheeler again. I convinced him. Today Pops says he knew I wouldn’t give up until he said yes. I continued to fall but the short moments of balance were worth the scars. By the end of that day, I rode the two-wheeler without falling.

After nine months of mastering bike sales, Bill designated me to train employees. I loved the new responsibilities but hungered for even more business opportunities. I saw a possibility when a brutal snowstorm hit two years ago.  I looked out my bedroom window to see men with diesel-powered four-wheel-drive trucks rushing from house to house, salting driveways, and using sharp metal plows to cut through the thick ice and snow. Do they really need all that equipment for such a simple job? I thought to myself. Why do they deserve to monopolize business on MY block?!

I answered that question by starting my own snow removal business. I saved $1,000 and invested in a snow blower. Last year, I hit the streets with the first snowstorm. I carefully chose Mrs. Gene’s doorbell,  since she was a friendly neighbor. Yet even she was not an immediate sale.

“Oh, well, usually Joe’s Snow Removal Company does it for me,” she told me.

“I do a quality job, can beat their price and will come any time that you need me.”

“Well, hun, Joe’s comes back and salts the steps so I don’t fall getting to my car in the morning.”

“I do that as well. Everyone on the block is going to be so jealous when they see how salty your steps are after I finish them.”

First sale made! The snow blower paid for itself in a few driveways and business started to boom. Eventually I had blocks of clients. Despite their elite equipment, my competition suffered.

Over time, my salesmanship grew beyond commerce and onto the lacrosse field. During my lacrosse team’s losing season two years ago, I was often the lone voice trying to sell my team on the belief that we could “bring home a ‘W.’” Perhaps it was those selling moments that inspired the team to elect me to be captain, as a junior, last year.

I still work at the bike shop and my business’s growth required me to hire two neighbors to help plow and attract new customers. Motivating them mirrors my roles on the lacrosse field, in the bike shop and, ultimately, my pathway as a natural leader with the initiative to work with people to get tasks done. Imagining what might comprise the open, unknown places on that path excites me as much as the rush of meeting those first customers in the bike shop.

Christopher Lassiter, a graduate of Millburn High School, is a freshman at James Madison University.

The Barrel and the Bubble

The Barrel and the Bubble

by Jana Wilson

janawilsonIt all started in a barrel. I know that may sound a bit odd, but hear me out.

I am trapped in a bubble of people who disrespect service workers and the only thing I can do is smile in order to keep my job. Forming a smile was never work for me, until I landed a job as a hostess at an upscale steakhouse. When I arrive at work on Sundays and Mondays at 4 pm, I am alone. My face can relax as I check voicemail and confirm reservations. By 5 pm, customers arrive and I turn on the “steakhouse smile.”

I have actually mastered (and sometimes enjoy) the challenge of playing charades, but backwards. The customers cannot read my true emotions and certainly do not know about the barrel. It is one source of my strength to get through a night of smiling through rudeness and indifference.

When I was 14, my grandfather shared the story of the barrel. Affectionately known as “Gramps,” he is 96 years old and my oldest living relative. When he was five, Gramps lost both his parents, forcing him to live an impoverished life in Grenada and be independent. At 12, he stowed away in a barrel aboard a ship destined for Trinidad. Homeless and alone, Gramps sought opportunities for a more prosperous life. After decades of hard work, he met and married my grandmother, moved to New York and raised successful children. If Gramps could create a better life after leaving his homeland in a barrel, I could handle smiling in a restaurant twice a week.

“Hi, how are you? Do you have a reservation?”

“No, but we want a table anyway,” a man demands. His wife looks past me, spying for empty tables.

“Let me see what we have,” I say looking up the reservations for the evening. “I have a table.“

The man frowns and the woman barely acknowledges me. My smile continues.
I grab two menus and seat them. I feel like a robot sometimes, performing the same repetitive action with the same smile and “click-clack” noise of my heels on the floor as I walk.

The barrel and bubble influenced my participation in the LEAD Summer Business program at the University of Maryland last summer. Our team of three students developed a product to be presented to professors and business leaders. We designed an app to make shopping and meal planning easier and less expensive by providing real time access to coupons on smart phones.

During weeks of preparation, I brought the tenacity of the barrel and the discipline of the smile to the table. I calmly motivated my team to focus on the big picture to stop them from arguing over small details.

On presentation day, while awaiting my cue to enter the classroom, I am a little terrified. The assembled group politely applauds as we stride into the room. My role is to deliver a thorough presentation about our target market, competition, and advertising strategies. I conquer my fear by thinking of my grandfather stowing away in a barrel and, of course, I smile.
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Gramps’ life has taught me not to live my life hiding inside of the proverbial barrel. I can accept that failure is a possibility, but it will not prevent me from escaping the barrel and pushing forward. Fear is simply an emotion that induces a lack of confidence. It is only an idea, not a tangible thing that can stand in your way. Therefore, why let it take over?

The courage and strength that Gramps possessed to climb into the barrel and then “break out” are alive in me. Any time I am faced with an obstacle, I try to remember my fearless grandfather stowing away in the barrel and know that success is possible. His story represents hope and helps define who I am today.

Jana Wilson, a freshman at the University of Michigan, is a graduate of Morristown High School.

Choose One Community

by Amanda Schnell

amandaschnellEssay #2 (Required for all applicants. Approximately 250 words)

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

What a recipe! An actress, three soccer players, a journalist, a football player, two dancers and a photographer–mixed together on the top floor of the 9/10 building every Wednesday. The result is thousands of dollars raised to build schools in countries that are severely uneducated. We are clearly a diverse group of classmates, yet we all have one thing in common: we believe in the right to education. We are the backbone of the Riverdale’s Pencils of Promise club. This non-for-profit organization raises money and awareness of the problems confronting education around the world. I devote myself to this community because I am aware of how important my own education has been in determining who I am and who I wish to become.

The diversity within this group of peers has taught me to appreciate different ways to approach projects, while valuing my own unique perspective. As one of the original members of the club and one of the oldest, I have taken on a position of leadership. In doing so, I have encouraged an atmosphere in which we take advantage of our diversity and everyone’s ideas are heard and valued. As a result, we have raised more than $5,000 and have also started a New York City-wide Facebook campaign. We also were leaders in organizing the charity’s teen council.

The Riverdale Pencils of Promise club has only been functioning for three years, yet we have accomplished an astonishing amount. This club is profoundly important to me because I so strongly believe in, and wish to expand, its cause.

Amanda Schnell, a graduate of the Riverdale Country School, is a freshman at the University of Michigan.

Middle Child Girl Power

Middle Child Girl Power

by Amanda Schnell

amandaschnellI was exhausted, frustrated, but refused to release the smile on my face. For two hours, I repeated the words “circle”, “triangle” and “square” as I stood before a classroom in a small school in the Floating Villages of Cambodia. I was overly ambitious, thinking I could move onto colors after an hour. I soon decided that the lesson plans just weren’t going to work, and instead quickly improvised. In teaching body parts, I started the class with singing and dancing. It was a crowd-pleaser. At the beginning of the class, they could not pronounce the word “toe”, but by the end we had successfully taught them every single body part in the “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” tune. I owe this moment of adaptability to the way I grew up.

I am the middle child–the only girl in the family sandwiched between two brothers who love to punch each other. Growing up, Justin and Casey sometimes excluded me, forming “boys only” clubs with private jokes. I’m not looking for pity; I had my diverse collection of stuffed animals and my diary to keep me company! Looking back, though, I see that this sibling dynamic has created a strong sense of individuality and self-sufficiency in me.

I even owe the diet I love to the independent streak I formed growing up. My brothers love steak and hamburgers, but in fifth grade I was moved to take on a new diet after reading Fast Food Nation. I will never forget the description of how each animal is killed at the McDonalds slaughterhouses. I have nothing against carnivores; in fact, all my friends are meat enthusiasts. But I was so moved by what I had read that at the age of nine, I stopped eating fast food and became the only vegetarian in the family.

Being the middle child has helped shape my life in so many other ways. My little brother Casey loves getting attention from Justin, so he rarely complains even when Justin contorts him into a multitude of painful looking positions. When Casey isn’t around, Justin likes wrestling with me. Learning to fight back thickened my skin, and ultimately made me even more adaptable.

When I met my Cambodian family last summer, we naturally bonded despite the language barrier. We exchanged warm smiles and found ways to express ourselves beyond our native dialects. Every morning I would walk out of my homestay house and watch neighbors washing their clothes and bodies in the river, which was filled with trash and human waste. After hours of teaching, I looked forward to my bucket shower. The water was always cold–which was perfect after a long day in the hot and humid Floating Villages. On our trip I would continuously say “It’s not weird or gross, it’s just different,” to other students in the program who complained. I lived comfortably by these words.

I particularly enjoyed the commute to the Floating School because it was nearly an obstacle course. A boat outside the house carried us to another floating house. We then balanced from the house to canoes, which finally took us to the school. One morning I could not stop thinking about the farm animals I saw on this journey. The students grew up around chickens and cows. Why not focus a few classes on animals while teaching English? We did so and the students mastered the topic with ease.

I loved my experience in Cambodia, but was happy to return home and see Justin and Casey, my occasional adversaries and my constant motivators. Now that we are older, our relationship is changing. Justin is no longer living at home–which has strangely prompted a closer (and less violent) relationship with both of my brothers. Yet, there are still times they throw me into the couch or try to twist my arms into unimaginable positions. Of course, I fight back without hesitation!

Amanda Schnell, a 2015 graduate of Riverdale Country School, will be a freshman at the University of Michigan in the fall.

First Job Blues: Battles and Lifelong Lessons

First Job Blues: Battles and Lifelong Lessons

by Diamond Grady

ArundelBayArea_MD_Senior_Grady_DiamondIt was the beginning of the shift. My first table of the evening just sat down. It was a couple I had never seen before in the the restaurant where I worked at a retirement living community. I was eager to meet them. I picked up my water pitcher in a great mood and headed to the table.  When I arrived, I poured the glasses of ice-cold water, and introduced myself. “Hello, my name is Di-” was all I could muster before the gentleman rudely interrupted with the demand that I bring him an iced tea, without even looking at me. Instantly my mood changed, and it took every ounce of my being to swallow my pride. I took the high road as this job has taught me to do and kindly said, “Yes sir.”

Add more living to your life. This is the motto that attracts residents to the community, and ironically, describes what it’s like to work there. I would know — the residents will certainly liven your day during mealtime. This is my first job and it has forced me to mature in ways I never imagined. I have learned to remain calm in the face of so much disrespect from the people that I serve French toast and eggplant Parmesan on a weekly basis.

If being outgoing ever becomes something that can be measured and sold, I would easily become a millionaire. I love to go to social events, interact with different personalities, and socialize with a mixture of diverse people. In high school, my people oriented personality developed into an interest in marketing, a field I intend to explore in college. During my high school years, I never fit into any one clique or limit myself to one group of people. I work very well with others and have always easily got along with most people. Given my personality, I never thought being a waitress at a retirement community restaurant would pose such a difficult challenge.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. At a young age, my parents instilled this lesson in me as well as taught me to always stand up for myself and treat others fairly. Working at the restaurant has exposed me to people who do not always treat me with the same respect that I deserve and show. As a waitress, I can’t stand up to them and demand respect in the way my parents nurtured me to do. This inner conflict has been difficult to navigate. Over time, I have become a more disciplined person as I curb my impulse to say something disrespectful to the rude people I serve. To prevent myself from snapping, I have learned to pause. Breathe in and out.

I have also learned to appreciate and focus on the good rather than allowing the bad to consume my experience at work. The optimist in me has grown. For example, Mr. Jones, a resident who dines at Atrium every day, takes care of his wife, who is diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Though he is always requesting extra food, and therefore making my job harder, he is extremely polite and always has a smile on his face even when dealing with his wife. Almost every time he asks for something else, he always says, “ I do not mean to trouble you but…”This simple comment instantly puts a smile on my face and softens my mood.

I am now more tolerant of others and realize that having the last word is not always important. Sometimes kindness and a smile are the best ways to handle a tense situation. “Kill them with kindness,” as the saying goes. I learned this lesson up close at work. As a result, I have grown into a stronger person as I make my transition into adulthood.

Diamond Grady is a 2014 graduate of Seton Keough High School in Baltimore and a freshman at Spelman College.

1000 Characters on a Work Experience

1000 Characters on a Work Experience

By Ian Batts

I interned at Fletcher Asset Management, a New York hedge fund, for three summers. In my first summer of 2009, I did not know what to expect. I only knew the firm asked for evidence of my math proficiency. I was a small, coy, soon-to-be freshman, who had never lived on his own. I lived in an apartment of my mom’s friend. I had to adapt to commuting, managing money, cooking dinner, and dealing with unfamiliar people who were often impatient. Wall Street was hectic in the wake of the housing collapse. However, I enjoyed my job and became much more independent. In my second summer, the fund entrusted me to analyze the collateral value of defaulting mortgages and present potential investments. In my third, I studied the firm’s operations and the options market. Financial skills that I acquired helped me to serve Green Door, a mental illness center where I volunteered last summer. I helped patients sift through financial details about federally provided care.

Ian Batts will be a freshman at Harvard in September.

 

Wilson’s Impact

by Jamie Woodard

A year after my best friend, Wilson, a Portuguese water dog,  was put to sleep, I found salvation at the Jersey Animal Coalition. The minute I stepped into this shelter, the odors of cat litter and wet dogs welcomed me with an intensity that underscored my calling. That day I met my friend Cinnamon, a dog part of an unwanted litter. I walked by his cage and saw the discontent behind his glassy eyes. I watched him helplessly try to paw his way through his crate, trying to get outside for the first time all day. My relationship with Cinnamon exposed me to the everyday difficulties of running an animal shelter. New animals arrived daily, each with their own story. Without a home, these animals were completely dependent on us, which was a disturbing realization. A beagle needs us to save him from an abusive owner, and the runt of a litter needs to be fed until being adopted. The shelter increased my awareness of the world’s cruelty, but also exposed me to ways to help its victims.

Jamie Woodard is a freshman at Georgetown and a 2013 graduate of The Peddie School.

Where Education Became the Passion: My Mother’s House

by Amanda Honeywell

Whenever I first mention “My Mother’s House” to friends, they immediately ask: Why do you call your own house,  “my mother’s house?”  It isn’t my house, but certainly feels like another home. It’s a place for formerly incarcerated women to reinvent themselves right after being released. They temporarily live there with their children. I spent a month of the summer after my sophomore year as a volunteer assigned to the children. While moms looked for work or held down first jobs as ex-convicts, I played with their children in the park and read to them before bedtime. I loved it so much I returned to volunteer during each of my school breaks.

While I indirectly helped mothers trying to reshape their lives, I discovered something that had been burning inside of me for years: my love of children and teaching; I discovered my calling to be an educator. I had worked in many other settings before with children. Most recently I had tutored Hope, a four-year-old at a center for gifted children. She could not keep up with peers until I was assigned to help her grasp concepts.  Then, of course, there is Brielle who lives in a world far away from My Mother’s House. At three feet-tall with curly pigtails, a cute smile, and an attitude the size of Texas, my niece, Brielle is the main attraction of our family. She’s replaced me as the baby girl of the family and always expects and receives special attention from Auntie Amanda.

I had my first experience working with children at my school in seventh grade, when I helped younger kids with homework in an after school program. They seemed genuinely happy under my guidance, while I became a sponge in their presence. All children, whether they are gifted, privileged, or disadvantaged, infuse my maturing life with adventure and a spirit of youthful gumption. I saw this three years ago when I left school for a quick slice of pizza after the last bell of the day. With my slice in a bag, I rushed back to school to tutor. I crossed the street a block from school and it hit me….literally! I was struck by a gold sedan, noticing its presence as I rolled off the windshield and onto the blacktop. I got back up and was going to keep walking to school while my friend and others around me insisted on calling an ambulance. I should be glad I listened to them. At the hospital, doctors discovered a bruised kidney that needed treatment and required me to spend a night in the hospital. Within a week, I was tutoring again.

While I always loved working with children, it was the experience at My Mother’s House that helped me identify education as a passion. I had spent an engaging week at Barnard College in an infant cognition course for high school students just before starting at My Mother’s House. So I had the opportunity to immediately employ the lessons from the classroom in pragmatic ways. On my first day, Imani greeted me by tugging on the bottom of my shirt. At three-feet with a poof on the top of her head and little braids on the bottom, she carries an an incredible sense of fashion for a toddler. She seems to always be smiling…no matter what comes her way. Imani’s infectious smile produced an instant connection with me. She absorbed the stories I read to her in the way I sat mesmerized by the lectures of my professor at Barnard.

Last Christmas, I returned to My Mother’s House, not greeted by my little friend tugging at my shirt, but by the unfortunate news that she had been missing for two weeks.  My world turned upside down and I felt the tears collecting as a co-worker explained that Imani’s mother did not come to the house one day. Eventually Imani’s uncle picked her up and told the director at My Mother’s House that Imani’s mother was fleeing arrest. He refused to allow My Mother’s House to release his contact information to anyone.

I think of Imani everyday, which inspires my drive to teach and impart my students with a passion to absorb everything life has to offer. Hopefully they will see service as a part of the offerings, which will direct them to helping innocent kids, similar to Imani, who are born into troubled environments. Whether they are volunteers or educators, they will experience the wonders of how children unknowingly enrich the lives of those around them.

Amanda Honeywell began her freshman year at Barnard College a few weeks ago. She is a 2013 graduate of The Kew-Forest School.

Becoming Maui

by Maui and Nile Adams

Many people worship heroes. I created my own superhero in Ninth Grade. Or to be accurate, I turned into my own creation. I became Maui after school and on weekends or any time I was an entrepreneur or conducting business. At school, I was Nile, kind of like Clark Kent. Outside of school, I needed to be Maui, a superhero to negotiate with my boss who was Vice President of Creative at EMI Music Publishing. At 16, I was the youngest intern there. I also needed to be something more than a normal teenager to help promote the three hip-hop artists I manage; they needed Maui, an entrepreneurial leader.

In Hawaiian folklore, Maui was born a demigod. He was the smallest of his family, however he had the quickest mind with a rascal-like nature. I have been on the path to becoming Maui for as long as I can remember. Naturally, the name Maui, and all he embodied, seemed appropriate for my alter-ego. In a sense, he was an entrepreneur in his own right. I cannot remember a time when I was not an entrepreneur.

I started simple—selling Afro t-shirts and old GameCube games. My interest in business grew to a new level when I was 12 and a family friend introduced me to the wonders of the stock market. I was hooked and my father eventually knew to immediately pass the business section of his New York Times to me. Today, a good friend’s mom even credits much of her wealth to me. One day, after school my mom was talking to Ms. Whitford, who said she was interested in buying new stocks. I jumped into the conversation. It was 2007 and, after reading many magazines and blogs, I knew the first generation iPhone was coming. I told her to buy as much Apple stock as possible. The stock was $6.56 per share and she followed my 12 year old advice. Five years later, Apple’s stock is now worth $700.09 per share. Every time I see Ms. Whitford she glows with thanks for helping her make more money than she anticipated. My mom regrets that she did not listen to me at the time.

There was one problem with my attraction to the stock market—I was too young to be a stockbroker. However I was just the right age as a child of the digital era to launch a business to help my classmates and older people with computer skills. I merged my love for computers and business into an enterprise in seventh grade. With a good friend, I founded Junior Genius Bar—a repair and advisory service for Apple products only. We charged $25 per job and made over $300 in a year.

Then came the summer before Eighth Grade when I spent much of my time around my older cousin, Wayne, a rapper. He introduced me to a new world and, as usual, I carried my business interests with me. I could not supress my entrepreneurial side as he showed me websites like all hip-hop.com or complex.com. Maui was in the making. I began to search for artists on my own to represent.

I did not have to look too far. My first artist, Jake Ressler, actually came to me. He was an Irish, muscular football player from New Jersey—not your typical rapper. I met him in camp and he asked me to teach him how to rap. I found a studio on Craigslist at a small (and very hot) studio in a Williamsburg warehouse. In our first three-hour session, we produced, mixed, and recorded Jake’s debut track, titled “Bully.”

Four years and many internships later, I was accepted into a high school program at the Clive Davis School of Recorded Music at NYU. It was the first time I merged my business interests with an academic environment where I was generally Nile. When I met my professor, he looked in my file and asked if I wanted to be called by my real name or Maui. For some reason, the classroom first made me feel like Clark Kent. I said “Nile.” When the class was sitting in a circle during our first session, we introduced ourselves.

“Hi, my name is Ni-”

I stopped and looked my professor.

“You sure you want to do this?” he said.

I continued. “Hi, my name is Maui.”

Nile Adams (or Maui) will be a freshman at New York University in the Fall and is a 2013 graduate of The Little Red Schoolhouse and Elisabeth Irwin High School.

My School Within a School

by Justin Schnell

I refuse to go to the School of Tears and Tutors–that overwhelmingly large school within my school. I have friends in Tears and Tutors and I do not resent my classmates who are enrolled there. In fact, I estimate that 75 percent of the students at my high school attend Tears and Tutors. However I live by a different ethic, which stresses teamwork and authentic learning. This has inadvertently turned me into a leader in the small and alternative school that exist in the shadows of Tears and Tutors. I  have named that school Teamwork Over Tutors, or TOT.

There are 15 of us in TOT. We are athletes who challenge the norm of jocks because of our strong intellectual cores. The lessons and ethics we have learned through sports guide the ethos of TOT. We do not have tutors for any subject but rely on each other for academic support. For example, I love physics and I will drop anything to help a fellow TOT student in that subject. Alvin loves English and he stays up for hours with me on the phone, helping me refine my ideas before I begin a literary critique.  My TOT classmate and friend, Jason, and I work well together both on the court and in the physics room. Last January, we worked on a project observing the shapes of different planets’ orbits based on the mass of the other planet it was orbiting. This experiment required a lot of outside research. We discovered an application called Orbital that models different sized planets and their orbits based on certain components. I created different examples of planets for us to observe while Jason wrote down his observations and compared each trial. By the end of the project, we had 10-15 examples that supported our thesis. We received an A, but the grade did not matter as much as the efficiency of the team effort. This is the beauty of Teamwork Over Tutors.

While students of TOT rely on each other, students in Tears and Tutors depend on tutors and experts to help lift their grades. They have at least one tutor–if not more–to help pour lessons into their minds. In Tears and Tutors students may forget a major lesson after a test. That’s okay in their school; they are more consumed with grades than learning.

I remember the day I realized my school was really comprised of two different types of students and decided to divide my school into two. It was history class during my junior year. Our teacher returned a test and I saw a classmate who received an 85 begin to sob. She pulled out her cell phone as she left the class and called her mother. She cried into the phone and said she needed a new tutor. Around that time, it seemed that roughly 75 percent of Dalton students have tutors. I wondered why I never had a tutor and why I had never called home crying over an 85. I realized then that I valued learning over grades and teamwork over tutoring.

In the school of Teamwork over Tutors, my role is the glue of the team. I keep us focused on our school within the school. I love taking the leadership role in our group and suggesting who should do what based on everyone’s strengths. Our success comes from my ability to instill a mindset that learning can be accomplished as a team and not just an individual.

Our educational model is actually ingrained in the founding of Dalton and the expressed values of the school. At Dalton’s lower school, TOT values were stressed with the recognition of the progressive education values of Helen Parkhurst, the school’s founder. She was a progressive educational thinker at the turn of the last century who embraced the philosophies of John Dewey. His ideas are congruent with team learning. By middle school, those values were fading at my school among my classmates. Yet, I found the sense of team learning that was common in the lower school classroom on the middle school basketball court. In fact, I became friends with most TOT students through organized sports, which began in 7th grade.

I have been conditioned for TOT through my experiences in athletics. Basketball was once just something fun, but now, it is the force that anchors my academics. In practice, you learn to work as one with your teammates, overcoming difficulties and prospering together. In physics class, your classmates make up your team in doing a group project. When you are doing an experiment, you are relying on your peers to work with you in an efficient way. On the basketball court it is the trust, organization, and effort of all 5 players on the court that leads to success. In the classroom, an organized team can produce the strongest moments of discovery and introduce students to broader perspectives than their own. Through TOT, I have learned that Teamwork is a true asset in any lesson. Whether you are an athlete, musician, or dancer, if you apply the lessons of teamwork from those talents to your academic life, you will receive a true education.

Justin Schnell will be a freshman at the University of Michigan in September and is a 2013 graduate of The Dalton School.