Who I Live With. Part I: Ms. Determan

As I’ve mentioned before, I live with five other Jesuit Volunteers in the Baltimore JV Community. Many of you have asked me about them, so they each agreed to a Q & A to tell more about themselves and what they do. This is part 1 of 5.

I undoubtedly spend the most time with this particular housemate. She works with me at Cristo Rey Jesuit as a fellow Teaching Assistant, we ride to and from school together, help run the after-school Extended Day program, cross paths multiple times per day, and bounce ideas off each other during school. Plus, you know, we live together. She is a passionate and driven teacher who truly cares about her students.  So without further ado, here’s a bit more about Kelly Determan… er… I mean, Ms. Determan.

You’re a fellow Teaching Assistant at Cristo Rey. What does your job entail?

As a teaching assistant, I co-teach physical education for both the freshman and the sophomores, which meet once a week.  I also co-teach in the freshman academic skills lab class, which is a supplementary class for the freshman to continue to work on their math, vocab and reading skills.  Specifically, I work in the library, assisting students on their independent reading by helping them choose books and providing them with written work to go along with their book.  I also work in Extendend Day, which is the after school program that makes sure the students are safe after school and that they find their ride promptly.

How was coaching the women’s soccer team?

Coaching the girl’s soccer team was both a blessing and a curse.  The girls were amazing people and I was able to form wonderful relationships.  While it was great to get to know this specific group of girls, consistent attendance was our biggest struggle.  The school is not designed to specifically facilitate athletics and puts the most emphasis on academics and the Corporate Internship Program, so it was sometimes hard for the girls to get to practices and games.  It is also difficult to coach and teach the game of soccer when you only have 4 to 5 girls at a time at practice.  Overall, it was a really fun experience and taught me a lot about coaching and gave me great knowledge for coaching in the future.

Why JVC? And why education?

I decided to do JVC instead of graduate school because I felt that this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.  Grad school is something that I can defer, while working at this specific job in this specific city might not have come around again.  I feel as though I have been given so much in my life that I am grateful for, that now is my time to give back.  JVC has also taught me a lot about myself and my beliefs, while exposing me to different elements of poverty, homelessness and race that I would have never experienced.  Education has always been my passion since I was younger, and adolescents are such an amazing group to work with.  They are just learning about who they are, but still need the guidance and support to get through. I can learn just as much from them, as they can learn from me. I have also always been passionate about English and literature, so I want to project my passion onto others and hopefully inspire them too.

What types of challenges do you experience at work? Where do you find the most joy?

The challenges I experience are not consistent, but more of a day to day thing.  Although I don’t find working with the students particularly challenging, some days there are isolated behavioral or attitudinal problems that can be difficult to work with, while other days the students are great. The joy I find comes from my daily interactions with the students.  As a high school student, I remember being so excited when a teacher would acknowledge me outside of class.  I never knew that I would feel the same joy in the opposing situation as the teacher.  Learning about these students and seeing their motivation keeps me going on a daily basis.

How cool is the Cristo Rey Network model?

I am extremely impressed with the Cristo Rey Network.  Although it is an extremely time consuming model, it brings so much opportunity to students who would otherwise go without.  The dedication from the staff and donors is astounding, and the individualized attention the students receive is difficult to parallel.  I also think it speaks for itself when you see how many different schools are opening throughout the country that follow the Cristo Rey method and are providing more disadvantaged students with a great college prep education.

Fun fact time!

I have read all 7 Harry Potter books at least 6 times each!

Thank you, Ms. Determan! Meet you in the teacher’s lounge for lunch!

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