Monday, August 9, 2010

Working at SMART

It's Nikki!!! I've been working at SMART since summer started, and it has been a great experience. It has been such a busy summer for me, and I love it. I like having things to do and being busy. Being at SMART this summer is the first thing on my Resume, as this is my first "Work Experience" item. Woo hoo!
So let's start from the beginning of working with SMART:
SMART started using this new database system so they can store EVERYONE's information. (I say everyone in all caps because I literally mean I've been putting in hundred's of people's info.) So I have been - and still am - putting in info from very new students, to the oldest of the bunch and all the people that work behind the scenes to make SMART possible. We have gone through trial-and-error to make the database a lot simpler and more convenient for SMART staff. (This was a great idea by the way. =))
So, once I finished the first batch of people to import in the database, I had to leave SMART for a Computer Science Program, but I came back a week later. I must admit I loved working here, I even came to work the day after 4th of July...when no one was here... how funny is that? I had my mom wake up super early and bring me over here only to go back home. It was a good day though, I had Noah's Bagels and Jamba Juice for breakfast =P.
When I got back to SMART, Paul, Erin and I started planning for the new summer program that we were going to have. It was the 1st summer that SMART had for the incoming 5th graders. It was quite and experience!
While we were teaching these amazing kids about fractions, recipes and "showing-not-telling," we were also in the process of interviewing and choosing someone to be the new Director of Academic Excellence. -Fancy huh? Yeah, well SMART decided to change things up a bit..They changed everyone's position title and started making new logos. Woah.- Anyways, back to the chaos: We had 16 new kids, "Rising 5th graders" (Yes, everyone has titles. I'm "The Best Intern in the World EVER" =). Or you could just call me "Intern" like Nonoko likes to =P) Now, again, back to the kids. 16 kids were getting to know this new environment, were making friends, learning a whole lot of stuff, reading books and stories, writing their own recipes and going on field trips. They had 3 weeks, from 9-12, to enjoy SMART. Each personality came out so beautifully and it was amazing to see how someone can be so tiny and have a great brain with space to expand. The kids learned how to be and act in a community and learned what it meant to be in SMART. Even though the summer program only ran for 3 weeks, there was tremendous growth in the children and it was great to see how much little kids absorb and how quick they adapt. Unfortunately, I had to leave the program a week early to write one of my college essays and missed out on their cool field trip.
See, every Friday, Paul and Erin took the little munchkins out on field trips. The first Friday, we went to the MOAD, The Museum of the African Diaspora. The kids learned a lot of historical things from this place, but it just wasn't the right setting for them as they need to run around a bit. It was OK though, we learned what was suitable and what wasn't. The next Friday, we took the children out bowling at Yerba Buena and they had a blast! Even I did! It was a great time to relax from all the work that they had been doing and they got to be with their friends. We also ate lunch in the park after which was really nice because it was like if everyone took their eating time seriously, yet calmly. Now, the one I really wanted to go to, but couldn't, was Zynga. Yes, Zynga, as in the big company that makes those cool games for Facebook. So I missed out on that one, but I heard it went well. The kids went to Zynga's kitchen since it related to their recipe topics in math class and spent their last day in a good way.
I came back after the last week, and the All SMART Picnic - which I also missed =( - and started data basing again. Yes, more people. Yipee! This time I had to connect a whole bunch of people, and it shows how if everyone was to grab someone they know, everyone in the world would have someone to hold on to and we'd all be connected. (It's like when you're bored on facebook and look at a friend and see you have "60 Mutual Friends" and you're like "Woah! How do you know that person????") Something like that. So, I data based some more, - and I still am - watered the dead plants that have been with us forever, hunted people down for their grades, made fake Polaroid pictures for the students, filed things in the bazillion folders here at SMART and sat in staff meetings.
Overall, it has been a great experience to work at SMART, alongside Nonoko, Paul, Erin and the new member of the team, Ben! We have all had good laughs, random conversations, delicious food, and great ideas. Working here has really helped me build my work experience on and off the resume. I have also found two people to write my letters of recommendations for college! Woo! I have a big year ahead of me, and I definitely will not be leaving SMART. That reminds me, we have had Alumni Advisory Board meetings that have run so smoothly and I am a member now! =) We have a community service project coming up later this month and a reunion in the winter as well as a fund raising event next year.
Smart has so much ahead of them, and so do I. I can never thank SMART and all the people here enough. They have helped me out so much, as well as all my peers and I hope I have helped them quite a bit. I also hope all the other SMART alumni come back to SMART to help out and see how things have changed, yet stayed the same. This has been a great summer and I am truly grateful for it.
Did you also know that SMART is a 8-12 program? Yea, so those who haven't graduated high school yet need to come back and rejoin this incredible community. (And of course the ACTUAL alumni =P)
-Nikki A.

P.S. You should really check out our cool t-shirts!! =] ""

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