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A Farewell to Da Vinci

Note: For those of you who don't know, I've worked at the high school I attended, Da Vinci Charter Academy, for the past three years in addition to my writing job. There, I co-taught the publications class for the past two years after a year of a long-term substitute position teaching 11th and 12th grade English. June 9 was my final day at the school. This column appeared in the final issue of this year's Vitruvian, the student newspaper I'm proud to have served as the adviser for for the past two years.

I never expected to be at Da Vinci Charter for one year, let alone three, but at my time at this great school comes to an end, I find myself reminiscing on some of the amazing memories I've made over the past few years with the students and staff that make our community so special.

My re-arrival on Da Vinci campus came as somewhat of a coincidence back in the fall of 2013.

Fresh out of college with a degree in the changing field of journalism, I took any work when I could when my student loan payments began to factor in.

I was enjoying a rare day off from my job selling cars when I received an unexpected phone call from Mr. Bell, my favorite teacher from when I was in high school.

"Would I be interested in taking a job here at DVCA?" he asked me after a long-term sub dropped out at the last minute.

At that point, I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I welcomed the opportunity to possibly make a difference at a place I believed in, over selling expensive hunks of metal.

You see, I could never answer the question, "Why should I buy this car?" My responses ranged anywhere from, "I don't know, do you like it?" to "Maybe you shouldn't, this is a serious financial decision."

I still have a tough time answering questions like that in the way that my higher-ups probably would have liked, but I think that's one of the main things that working at Da Vinci taught me: that I never wanted to be in a place where I didn't believe strongly in what I was doing.

And with the innovative staff and creative students DVCA has, it's hard not to believe in the program we have here.

There have been road bumps for sure: the first stack of essays I had to grade, constructing lecture from scratch with no formal teaching education, and making the transition from being a long-term sub to a full-time paraeducator.

After three year of working at this amazing place, I've finally come to the realization that I want to dedicate my life to a full-time career in writing, meaning that June 9 will be my last day on campus as a Da Vinci employee.

Not many employers would have given me the flexibility and support to pursue an extra career outside of my regular hours.

Mrs. Roper and Mrs. Uliasz took on extra work and responsibility so that I could help share my passion of writing in the journalism class the past two year.

Mrs. Allen always said "yes" to every weird idea or new project that I wanted to try, despite none of them being official job description.

Mrs. Sangster put up with my snark and eclectic schedule to help our students create a newspaper that truly meant something.

It was those four and more who helped me contribute to so many great memories I have from the last three years.

Some of my favorites:

The time Maggie McManis, the athletically-minded class of 2015 Golden Compass Award winner, was the only person in 10 minutes to dunk me in the dunk tank despite mostly boys trying to hit the target. It was Maggie and others who showed this school every day how strong young women could be both academically and athletically...

Watching Mr. Millsap each year lock confused students out of hi classroom until they had the "password" during the speakeasy-inspired Party Like it's 1929 entry event...

Discovering my love for Kurt Vonnegut's writing after teaching Slaughterhouse-Five to honors students. I had previously ignored it while in high school...

Seeing the reaction on everyone's face the first time Gavin Cosgrave and Jocelyn Cavins' newspaper re-design hit the presses. Those two set the standard for what we did in the journalism class, pushing Mrs. Sangster and me to new heights ourselves...

Justin Bier's performance in his James Bond video...

While I'm excited to transition to a new phase in my life, it saddens me that I'll leave new memories like these on the table. So it goes.

But I'll be watching from afar as this community continues to evolve and thrive as one of the most forward-thinking campuses in the world for young people to grow.

Never change, Da Vinci.

You are proof that an unmotivated teenager can walk through your doors and eventually believe in themselves enough to make a leap towards their dreams.

You are the correct recipient of any success I may or will have.

You are the reason I am who I am today.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of it.

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