Updated: Jun 24, 2022
Welcome to Open Minds Writer Spotlight, a new series that highlights the work of the Open Mind School community.
This week's article is from Gilly Dosovitsky. Gilly interned at Open Mind School in 2017. She is currently a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student studying clinical child psychology and works as an executive functioning tutor and educational consultant.
As I begin my last week of summer and the end of an amazing internship at Open Mind School I’d like to share a little about my experience. First of all, I’d like to thank Marina and all the staff and students at OMS for their continued guidance and mentorship. This summer, I expected to learn about children with special needs, which I definitely did. I did not expect to learn this much about working with such a supportive team, the ups and downs of running a business, and just how beautiful (and I don’t just mean the decor) a classroom can be for our diverse learners.
As most people know, I have always seen children in my future career, but I did not think I would be in the classroom. I saw too many poor examples of schools where children were not thriving and teachers who were just not given enough support to help each of their students. OMS is definitely not a place like this. I can say with certainty that the well being of each student is the top priority for every adult they interact with there. I got to see how education could be flexible yet produce results for students. I got to see a school where test scores were not even on the radar but 6-year-olds knew about percentages and each day students had lessons in core subjects as well as art, music, PE, cooking, and life skills.
The students are so happy to be there and when they were not, that’s okay too. It was awesome to see a school that is so sensitive to emotions and stress. Teachers asked students, “How are you feeling right now?” and they weren't just making small talk. The child’s response actually mattered and their needs were met as much as possible. Sometimes all they needed was a few minutes of quiet, a tight squeeze, or a snack. If this is all a student needs to feel supported and ready to learn why haven’t more teachers been taught to ask and truly listen? Many more things about this summer were exemplary and will stay with me for a long time but for now, here are a few highlights:
· The entire staff having a discussion on how they can support one student and creating an individualized plan for short-term success and happiness.
· A lot of running and wondering how it can be so hard to catch up to someone that small.
· A selfless staff not bogged down by titles or hierarchy where everyone is willing to do any job. Particularly memorable was the afternoon we all randomly got assigned another staff person’s job, which had the executive director teaching gym.
· Supportive parents and siblings who will move mountains for their little ones to have dignity, independence, and happiness and who see the magic in a community like OMS.
· The bright smiles and outstretched arms waiting for you on a Monday morning and the teary eyes and gut-wrenching screams that hope you’ll just understand.
· Who knew something as simple as The Sound of Music on repeat, an electric candle, sunglasses, a round of applause, or an elevator could make the difference for a child? Hats off to all the teachers and therapists who find these types of solutions every day for their kiddos.
· Having dozens of stories at the end of every single day and friends and family waiting to hear my updates.
This is not the end of my story with OMS but regardless you should keep an eye out for them, they’re doing great things. I’m pretty sad knowing I won’t see those sweet faces every day or get to be involved in their daily progress but I feel so motivated to start senior year and seriously focus on grad school applications (yikes!). I have learned so much this summer but most of all I learned there is always so much left to do but with my education, slowly growing expertise, and exponentially growing dedication I am ready to get to work helping all our kiddos find success.
Open Minds Silicon Valley provides platforms to elevate the voices of diverse students, professionals, and families. We encourage writing submission to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to being in touch about possible feature options.