Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about.
On a drizzly day in late March, we were out at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts. CIS Site Coordinator Emily Demorest and CIS After School Coordinator Jen Nitz were both on hand so we thought we’d pop our quiz on them. These two passionate and talented women work closely with the Maple Street team, including teachers, staff, and the principal to help students succeed in school and life.
Alright, Emily Demorest and Jen Nitz: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.
What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?
Emily: I learned that the Michigan State Board of Education has just put forth new guidelines that would allow transgender students to have greater recognition of their gender identity. [Emily has since written a blog post about this and you can read it by going here.]
Jen N: What have I learned? My mom just went to the Maldives, which is a Muslim country. What she learned from her time and now what I’ve learned from her is that Maldivians are very accepting and loving. They come to people with compassion. This is in sharp contrast with what is presented in the media these days, with the bomb that just went off in Brussels. That Malldivian message—approaching others with compassion and love—needs to be heard. That is what they, and we all want, for humanity. People really can be good in the face of bad.
Favorite word right now?
Jen N: Extrapolate. I’m the queen of extrapolating information from people.
Emily: You are also the queen of the power pose. That’s a technique that falls under that mindfulness umbrella.
Jen N: [To demonstrate, Jen stands up, places hands on hips.]It’s a grounding pose that calms. I use it to help calm and focus kids. They love doing it.
Emily: You used it just yesterday with that student who came in with anxiety.
Jen N: That’s right. I showed him the power pose, he did it with me, taking deep breathes. He quit hyperventiling and calmed to where we were then able to talk about what was going on for him. Doing the pose—being able to calm himself—helped him achieve a sense of personal power. He left calm, and went back to class.
Emily: My favorite word is multiverse. I recently went to see Neil Degrasse Tyson when he was in town.
Jen N: I wanted to see him! Was it good?
Emil: Really good. So multiverse is this idea in physics that in the universe there are multiple universes occurring at the same time.
Jen N: So, like for instance, our alter egos are meeting right now at another Maple Street Magnet School? Wow. You really love science, don’t you, Emily?
Emily: I do!
Jen N: As long I don’t have to convert joules to kilojoules in chemistry, science is fun.
What are you currently reading?
Emily: I’m studying for my social work clinical exam/license. I’m currently reading the Complete Guide to the National Social Work Exam.
Jen N: I’m reading How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.
What are you learning from the book, Jen?
Jen N: Have kindness and empathy. I have short patience and I need to be better with that. I always want to come at kids in a positive, supportive manner.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Jen N: A world traveler. I want to experience different cultures. I’m interested in anthropology. I’m interested in people and want to see how they live.
Emily: Honestly, this may seem super cheesy but I love being a CIS Site Coordinator. This is 100% what I want to be doing.
Jen N: But if someone plunked you down and said you could be anything, wouldn’t you want to travel? Who doesn’t want to travel?
Emily: I’ve traveled. I spent time in South Africa. I got there and realized it wasn’t my community. You can only do so much when it’s not your own community. Here, [Emily waves her hands around the school] this is my community. I can make a real difference here.
Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?
Emily: Adeline Sichterman. She was my neighbor when I was growing up in Paw Paw. She was this extremely cool and eccentric English teacher who had lived in Japan for a long time. She took me to Barnes & Noble and bought me books. She took me to plays. She taught me that it’s okay to be smart and weird. Later, when I grew up, she even did the flowers for my wedding!
Jen N: For sure my parents, both of them. They both work to educate and help people. They help the underdog. Their example taught me cultural sensitivity and that you can’t judge others. You must take every person that comes at you as they are, no matter what.
You two make a great team. You’re both funny and deep.
Emily: Funny but deep, I like that.
Jen N.: Just so we’re not funny and peripheral.
Thank you, Emily and Jen N.!
Tags: CIS, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, Emily Demorest, Jen Nitz, Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts, Michigan State Board of Education, mindfulness, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Site Coordinator