Why I Enjoy My Time at Emerson, an Alumni’s Reflections
Written by Christina Trujillo
For this article we have a special guest author, Jakob Rauen, an alumni of Emerson School. He has returned to our campus as part of his high school community service and reflects on the positive experience he had during his time at Emerson School. Read below to see how Emerson School helped improve Jakob’s outlook on education.
Why I Enjoy My Time At Emerson
By Jakob Rauen
My name is Jakob Rauen. I am currently a freshman at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California. BCP (Bellarmine College Preparatory) is a Jesuit private school that focuses on making boys into “men for and with others.” In order for this to be accomplished, every grade year is sent to do at least 15 hours of direct service to the community, helping different people every year. The freshman year is supposed to help give direct service to young children through tutoring and actively engaging them. Direct service is classified as teaching and talking to the children as well as playing with them, not just grading papers and cleaning up after them. This allows for me to become close with all the children, a goal fostered throughout the Jesuit community, and it is what drives me to come back to volunteer, even when my hours are done.
The atmosphere and community at Emerson was one I grew to love and adore. I was nervous when I first arrived but I quickly made new friends and learned how special Emerson truly was. Here, I was able to get much more one on one help with my work, which was very important to my success. I came in not caring about school and learning and came out a better boy who strived to learn more and wanted to explore the world and creativity. I started off poorly, not finishing my work every week and needing to take it home and complete it so I would not fall behind. This attitude lasted throughout the first year and a little into the second. But one day, while I was slacking off, I saw my little brothers, who were in kindergarten at the time, working their hardest in their Primary Math textbooks. My immature brain was amazed at the idea that someone so little could work so hard and that he could be better than me at something (I was very competitive back then). So I began to work harder and harder and by the end of my second year I had improved greatly. By 5th Grade (third year) I had reinvented myself, like a butterfly from a chrysalis, becoming a student who was interested in education and pushing to be the best. All of this work, however, would not have been possible without the help of my teachers.
Unlike many other schools, Emerson is special because of the student to teacher ratio. This low ratio allows for a more personal experience with a teacher who understands what the student is struggling with. The teacher will then address the issue and help fix it, as well as having the student know how to do it without help. This experience allowed for me to flourish in school, helping me learn what I forgot, and I still use the teaching methods of my teachers when I help my friends or other kids with their schoolwork.
Now, in high school, I miss the days here at Emerson. One thing that many parents I have met with worry about are the small class sizes. They fear that it will make their kid anti-social when they transition to another school. The opposite, in fact, is very true! While at Emerson, it is true that there are less people to talk to but this allows for everyone to grow very close with each other and become better friends than those at other schools. It allows for a community of people who all care for one-another to form and stay together for a long time. In fact, I still have close friends from Emerson, and so do my younger brothers. This is a place where you not only make friends, but also keep them.
One issue with some parents that nags them is the Montessori model of education. They fear that it will teach their kids that focusing on one specific task is not something to do, and that it is okay to wander around the workplace and socialize instead of work. I would say that these parents do have a right to think this, but I can assure you it does not interfere with work. It actually allows for cooperation on harder assignments (or “jobs,” as we call them) as well as an incentive: if you finish your work efficiently and without mistakes, then you get some free time to read and work on puzzles. This incentive actually teaches many children time management, as they could either procrastinate/take too many breaks in between work/quickly rush through work, or they could put effort into their work and stay focused, allowing for better work results and understanding how to manage time. Now, many people and parents think that I am advocating for quick and sloppy work. This is not true, however, as corrections involve sitting with the teacher, understanding your mistake, and fixing it so you will not make that same mistake again.
By now you might understand why I come back here to volunteer not only for school, but also for my personal benefit. Emerson is a school where people come together and information is not taught, but retained and learned. The community of teachers and students made me excited to go back to school everyday. The teachers came prepared to teach and the students came ready to learn. Everyone would work hard and have fun while doing it. That was my Emerson experience, and I want it to be yours as well. So, why do I come back? It’s because of so many things: the teachers, the kids excited to learn, the giggles and laughs of joy during recess, etc. But now I ask you, what isn’t there to love?
Christina is a Senior Administrator at Early Learning Institute, a Palo Alto-based organization that operates child care centers and private schools in the Bay Area—including the HeadsUp! Child Development Centers in Palo Alto, North San Jose, and Pleasanton, Emerson School in Palo Alto and Hacienda School in Pleasanton—and offers writing programs for school-age children.