During the summer, I attended an Advanced Placement summer institute in order to prepare for the upcoming AP US History course that Verbum Dei added for the 2015-2016 academic year. Upon arrival, I was quickly made aware by the instructor that the hurdles were going to be plentiful; especially for students that struggle with literacy. While there was a sustained focus on different strategies that teachers can implement in order to assist students with literacy competency, I was caught off guard by a unique hurdle Verbum Dei academics has as it pertains to the AP tests: time. The instructor handed out an outline that listed the amount of days he would dedicate to each unit, totaling in 159 days. After looking at the Verbum Dei calendar I realized our students would have a little over 100 days to cover the same amount of material!
In my mission to create an atmosphere of resiliency and urgency, I shared with them this obstacle. After I presented my game plan in attacking this time constraint, which included occasional Saturday sessions, in unison they replied, “Sounds good, Mr. Jovel”. Though I was pleased with their quick optimistic response, this Saturday really spoke volumes to their determination. On Saturday, September 26th we came together at eight in the morning for a study session that lasted a couple of hours. Not one person was absent. What came after meant the world to me. While most students would have their parents patiently waiting for them in the school parking lot, excited to start the weekend plans, half of my boys were waiting on separate bus stops along Central Ave. It was inspiring to see our boys not use the excuse of lacking transportation as a reason to not come in for an early morning Saturday session.
They are giants, and in many ways encompass the resilient spirit of the Verbum Dei and Watts community. This is true testament to, not only the educators at Verbum Dei, but the families that these young men come from. I am inspired by their winning spirit and their optimistic minds. The hurdles won’t decline for our boys but on Saturday I witnessed how they will approach those obstacles.
“Blessed is the man who preserves under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12