My name is Shams Gebre and I serve in Denver Public Schools (DPS) as an Urban Education Service Corps AmeriCorps Member at Grant Beacon Middle School (GBMS). It has been a little over six months since I have been a part of the Denver Public Schools AmeriCorps program and I’m amazed by the progress I have had with the students at my school. I consider myself lucky to have been able to establish a strong rapport with the kids (and also the staff). I love waking up in the morning knowing that there is a place for me to go to influence the lives of so many young people.
One of our programs main goals is to improve student attendance at a variety of DPS schools. My attendance caseload is something I am proud of. I see positive results with the students I am working with and I credit this improvement in attendance to my effort of reaching out to their parents/ guardians and being an energetic and fun person in their life that they see every day while at school. The kids call me Mr. G and they say it with enthusiasm. The children see me as someone who is cool, funny, smart, happy, supportive, and easy to talk to.
Serving at a middle school can be challenging, but you know what motivates me to do what I do? Seeing the kids smile, watchi
ng them play and have fun, and doing well in school. They give me high fives and shout my name…I have to be there, these kids want me there. To illustrate how effective I have been in promoting student engagement and improving collective attitude towards school, there have been several students tell me “you’re awesome Mr. G, you make school a fun place to go to.” It feels great to know that I have the ability to make students change their attitude towards being at school.
Something funny I want to share is the fact that there are many kids who desire to be added to my attendance caseload – they see it as a special group and an opportunity for them to interact with Mr. G on a regular basis. I have even had a few students who just check in to know their attendance rating and advice. I have my candy Fridays, and on that day, I reward students on my attendance caseload with treats, and if I have extra I hand out treats to other students too.
At GBMS, I developed a service project, an enrichment class called “Social Issues Affect Us All”, and there have been many students who find out that I am the one providing lessons for that class and they express an interest in joining it.
Moving to Colorado in 2013 and joining the Denver Public Schools Urban Education AmeriCorps Program is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. It has really helped me realize what my professional strengths are and the opportunities where I can grow more. I am doing what I can to be a better educator and advocate for youth. I have goals set for the future to eventually become a social studies teacher. I have always dreamed of working in public education ever since I was in 2nd grade. Based on the experiences I have had so far as an AmeriCorps member for Denver Public Schools, I am confident that I have what it takes to work in an academic environment, connect with students, and be a positive role model for young people who live in the inner city.
– Shams Gebre, AmeriCorps member at Grant Beacon Middle School (Go Griffins!)