Reaping the Harvest, Interview with CCA Ms. Ashley Bell at Overbrook High School:
What led you to apply to Promise Corps?
My year of service as an AmeriCorps Vista was ending and I was looking for employment. The places I applied to weren’t calling me back. After a conversation with my best friend whose term was ending as CCA…I decided to apply on a whim and less than a week later I was a CCA. God was not opening any other doors and opened this one to Promise Corps!
What does a typical day at Overbrook High School look like for you?
There is no such thing as a typical day…it’s truly like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re going to get. In the morning before I walk into the building I pray. 1st period I take time to collect my thoughts and get ready for the day ahead. Later that same morning I do a check up with my team. Then 2nd-4th period I helps kids in the PC room, try to hunt down some of my students, have meetings, and prepare to teach fourth period.
What has been the most challenging thing this year?
Professionally this job has been taxing physically and emotionally… 7:30-4:30 is tiring and it can sometimes go longer. There is a constant outpouring, high energy, and you see a lot things that are very emotional. We are not teachers or counselors but we are someone who sees the students every day, and sometimes I feel like our level of power is very limited of what we can do….so that can be frustrating. Personally it’s been challenging because I’ve never seen myself in this role. I believe we all have a purpose, so I’m just trying to figure out what God has for me through this year.
What is the most rewarding thing?
Off the top of my head, one of my students got into the top colleges (Millersville University). But getting to know the students outside of paper, who they are, what their stories are, who they are and how they plan to get there is definitely another one. I’ve learned that apart from students, they are people first.
Another rewarding thing would be how our relationships in the school in regards with administration and staff have greatly improved, because what most people don’t know is that we had to work and fight really hard to get the relationships as strong as they are, and that means a lot. We are someone that they can lean on, and as the vice principal said, “ we have engrossed ourselves within the culture of our school.” (and that is the secret of having a successful program in the school).
If you could give one piece of advice to future CCAs what would it be?
Run…LOL jk! I feel like I could give so much advice, but one little gem that I’ll drop is to build a strong relationship within your team. See our team, we are like a mini family. There have been some days when I was ready to quit….and on those days we will drop everything and take the time where we all support one another or help each other out through whatever it is. We aren’t afraid to be there for one another, to be vulnerable and able to ask for help. Oh and we LAUGH, we laugh a lot!
What has your role as a CCA taught you?
GRACE. To have grace with your students, because sometimes it’s easy to forget that they are just high school students and have other things going on. If they mess up today or cuss you out, don’t hold it against them, instead be the role model and and example that teaches them to talk it out and have a have a discussion on why that was wrong.
It has also helped me to remember to have grace with my own personal relationships and myself. Because sometimes you can be your own worst critic. You think “I’m supposed to know this, know how to do that..etc.” but grace comes into play when you make those mistakes….”give yourself enough grace to grow.”
What are your plans after this year?
Well hopefully I get accepted into Teach For America, and I am able to return to Overbrook to continue the work that I’ve started. But ultimately I’m just being obedient to God, so it’s wherever he wants to take me. “I’m the pencil, he’s the author…but I definitely know wherever I go, Overbrook is coming with me”
Do you have any last remarks?
GRIT, GRACE, GROWTH
Grit – As in it’s going to be hard and you need to put in work for this process. It’s going to take courage for you to analyze your flaws, strengths and weaknesses. Finding out your purpose is not going to be easy but it’ll be worth it.
Grace- Have enough grace to be willing to grow, get up and try again. If God gives us grace everyday, who are you not to give that grace to others and yourself? Don’t beat yourself up.
Growth- Be willing to grow. If you are stagnant, what are you doing? Always ask yourself this one thing…how is this growing me? Whatever you’re doing just bloom, baby bloom!
– Yaczin Hernandez, College & Career Ambassador at Overbrook High School