Our summer intern Erin Gahimer wanted to share thoughts on her time with us in this blog post. We wish her the best of luck as she heads to graduate school this fall.
While my time with the IPS Education Foundation has been a relatively short tenure, I have enjoyed the experience and feel that I’ve learned a lot. All professional skill building aside, I believe the most beneficial aspect of this experience has been learning more about the Indianapolis Public Schools system.
As a southside Indy native, I have called myself a resident of the great city of Indianapolis for over 20 years. Despite this, I knew very little about the IPS school district prior to my work at IPSEF. This is probably a common story for most suburbanites of Indianapolis. From my perspective, the very little I did know was , e.g. media attention focused on the narratives of low-performing schools, state takovers, etc.
In spite of this, I feel privileged to have witnessed IPS Schools on a more personal, up-close level. I am proud to report that I have an array of very positive things to say about the region’s largest and most acadmically diverse school district. I was fortunate to have the chance to visit four different IPS schools during my internship. While this is a small number compared to the number of schools in the district, these experiences have given me insight into the positive things happening in IPS.
One of these expereinces was meeting with Ashauna Short, the principal at John Marshall Community High School, about a grant opportunity. Ms. Short was one of the most passionate educators I have met. In meeting with her, I could tell that passion was oozing out of her pores as she spoke about her students. She had such genuine desire for them to be successful in and out of school. Her “I-play-to-win” attitude matched with her professionalism was impressive and something to be desired in any school.
Similarly, my experience visiting the SUPER School at School #19 was an extraordinary one. Being a kinesthetic learning magnet, School #19 focuses on students’ health and wellness and ensures students’ movement throughout the academic day. How “super” is that? Seeing yoga balls at desks instead of chairs, watching students pedal on stationary bike desks and hearing young students speak with insight about the importance of wellness blew me away. What an incredible initiative for IPS students as healthy living plays such a large role in overall success.
Lastly, assisiting in the preparations for the Hall of Fame Luncheon has shed light on the positivity associated with IPS. I have been so impressed with the accomplishments of our five new 2014 inductees: an award-winning novelist, an Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, an amateur golfer and golf course designer, an accomplished attorney at Eli Lilly and Company, and one of George W. Bush Sr.’s “1,000 Points of Light” awardees. Wow. I was tasked with writing up summaries of these accomplished individuals on multiple occassions with a maximum word count of 90. Talk about a chore! These five individuals are just the tip of the iceburg of honorees in the IPS Hall of Fame. I think this speaks to the many, often untold, success stories that come out of this school district.
In short, working for the Foundation has been quite an educational experience. While this personal knowledge is imporant, what is more important is disseminating this knowledge to others. Dispelling the myths of negativity and promoting the truths of positivity about IPS is my new goal. I know this has been my experience, and I hope that it will be that of many others in our great city as well.
Erin Gahimer is the summer Development Intern for IPSEF. She is a life-long resident of Indianapolis seeking to learn more about the non-profit scene in the city. She graduated from the University of Dayton in May 2013 with degrees in Sociology and Spanish and has plans to attend graduate school in the Fall.