Writing coach, C.W. Harris Elementary School
How long have you been with DC SCORES and at what schools?
Eight years. Seven at Kelly Miller (Middle School) and one year at C.W. Harris.
What’s your other job within or outside the school?
This year I am a third and fourth grade English teacher. In the past I've been a middle school reading teacher and instructional coach. I also was the girls assistant basketball coach at Kelly Miller (years ago).
How did you get into education or start working with youth?
I studied elementary education at Towson University and knew at that time I wanted to become a teacher. I had a high school math teacher, Ms. Mamano, that made learning fun every day you entered her classroom. She greeted us with a smile, taught us with excitement and enjoyed doing it. I wanted to give that same energy and love for teaching and learning to my students one day.
Why did you choose to work for DC SCORES; what attracted you to the program?
Having the opportunity to see students in a different light outside of the classroom is what attracted me to DC SCORES. Seeing them excited and encouraged in other areas other than day-to-day school work. Seeing the quietest child come out of his/her shell and being the loudest child on the field but in a positive way.
Now that you’ve been doing it for awhile, what do you enjoy most about it?
Poetry Slam! every year. At school my kids act like they aren't ready, sometimes even act shy and even forgetting their own words to poems they've written. But they absolutely amaze me each and every year when they hit the stage. Their excitement, confidence and smiles make me proud.
In addition to that, I am able to see other DC SCORES students perform. Seeing their excitement and their coaches with them makes all the hard work well worth it.
There are times that pressure is on teachers to make sure our students pass state assessments, which is good because we definitely want our kids to be able to compete with other students across the country academically. But sometimes that doesn't allow us to do activities such as poetry and public speaking during class time, because there simply isn't enough time in the day.
DC SCORES gives me the opportunity to get to know my students on an even deeper level. Things they share in their poetry I sometimes am not able to get in the classroom. It also gives them/me the opportunity to meet and bond with other students, either younger or older, that they/I wouldn't normally meet because they transition with their homerooms all day.
Was there an experience you had growing up that pushed you into education or toward doing a program like DC SCORES? Were you in a similar program?
I wouldn't say that there was an experience I had growing up that pushed me into education, but I can say I had a mother that instilled in my brother and me the importance of education and becoming a well-rounded individual. There was never a summer or an evening after school that we weren't involved in something. We were always involved in some kind of activity.
We were involved in sports, after-school programs, boys and girls scouts, Friday night youth Bible study, HAP (Higher Achievement Program), after-school tutoring, sewing class, piano lessons and band practice. My parents reminded us of our "mission" daily. The "mission" was going to school daily and performing and behaving in school that demonstrated excellence. It was the expectation that we fulfill the "mission" daily and even to this day, we are still on the "mission.”
What’s your favorite DC SCORES event and why?
Jamboree! is one of my favorites or the service-learning projects (in the spring). Just seeing our kids involved and engaged in doing something positive that benefits them and mankind. Seeing them involved in activities that they probably would've never even considered participating in.
What’s your most memorable DC SCORES experience?
One summer I had the opportunity to take a summer poetry class at the University of Iowa. I had the opportunity to meet other writing coaches from across the country. I never considered myself a poet but after leaving Iowa that summer I said to myself, ‘Not bad, Ericka, not bad at all.’ I too am a poet and enjoyed doing it.
Who is your favorite athlete?
Who is your favorite singer or poet?
Ledisi and Jill Scott
What is your favorite food?