Here’s an Allenbrook shout out to an unBEElievable teacher, Ms. Jasmine Calin, who proudly teaches fourth grade. Scholars love Ms. Calin’s classroom: it’s calm, organized and a place where any child can learn. It’s also a lot of fun!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Miami. I went to school at Davidson College where I played basketball and majored in Cultural Anthropology. I joined Teach for America in 2013 as an alternate pathway into teaching and taught in my hometown for 3 years before moving back to Charlotte in 2016 to teach at Allenbrook. I have been teaching for 5 years total and I love my job!
What do you like about Allenbrook?
Since I started teaching, I knew I would always be teaching in Title 1 schools. These schools serve minority populations that are often overlooked or forgotten. For me, though, it is in these environments I feel most at home and most challenged. Our kids are talented, unique, funny and bold; they are just waiting for someone to help unleash their potential!
I chose Allenbrook because it has a unique model with its Opportunity Culture and support staff. We have “coaches” for our teachers, coaches for our coaches, coaches for our administrators, all with the goal to hone our skills for our scholars. We also have a small team of mental health professionals that our students rely on for the socio-emotional support they need.
What are the greatest challenges?
There are many challenges at Allenbrook but my personal greatest challenge has been meeting my students’ academic needs. Previously I had been teaching only math, but recently have acquired reading. I also have students ranging in skill level, from kindergarten to fifth grade. It was manageable when I only taught one subject, but working everything in is challenging. When do you have time to teach nine different lessons in math? How do you teach a child who doesn’t know how to subtract while we are learning division? Thankfully, our class culture is strong. Before winter break, they decided, knowing of our great academic disparities, to “tutor” one another.
What is great about this group of scholars is that they and their families have done a great job of owning their current academic levels. There is no shame in knowing you are behind the game. Somewhere along the line you didn’t pick up a skill or didn’t understand a concept. Maybe you also learn at a slower rate. In our class, ignoring those things because they are uncomfortable is not an option. What we do to combat it is focus primarily on growth and growing as a collective. We also talk a lot about what it means to be smart. They fully understand that no one is born smart and with enough time, anyone can learn anything. We are all about “yet,” and big on celebrating small victories.
What has been the most helpful?
I came here to L.I.F.T. schools because I wanted coaching, so the role of the Multi-Classroom Leader has been impactful. This is someone who is a master teacher, who isn’t too far removed from the classroom and who can relate to you. Chris Moses is my MCL and he cares so deeply about our kids. He gave me a really strong start. He learned my style and pushed me where I needed to be pushed. My MCL in reading, Liz Bertke has also been really instrumental. I just began working with her directly and she has been helpful in helping me grow as a leader.
I would be crazy to not also include Ms. Ashley Robinson. She is the MCL for first grade and so happens to be my best friend! She has been my thought partner all year, encouraging me and being my greatest critic and biggest cheerleader. My assistant principal often plays that role as well, she has shown faith in me as a teacher even when I was struggling.
Lastly, my kids! I have an amazing, fun group of scholars who impress me more and more each day.
What are your goals for this year?
This year I have been really focused on Restorative Practice, approaching everything in a restorative way by considering everyone and involving them. There’s not a hierarchy; I never say, “This is MY classroom.” We do a lot of relationship building and decision-making in our circle, creating consequences and rewards. This creates a lot of buy-in with scholars and shows them that their opinion matters.
I also want to expand my scholar’s understanding of the world. In all we do, I strive help them understand their place in this world and their relation to others in it. We challenge one another and inspire each other to take risks. I am big on trying new things, never being afraid to fail and embracing mistakes as glorious learning moments! We try things at which we KNOW we will fail to say we can try to “fail better” next time! We give shout outs to each other daily just to say, “Hey, I see you and you are great.” We do a bunch of things to build ourselves to be better people. So really my goal is for my kids to be happy being their best selves.