Ever since the AFP International Fundraising Conference in San Antonio two years ago, I’ve been interested in experiencing a day in the life of my school. It’s the one takeaway from a session (on major gifts, I think) that has stuck with me well past a conference. It may also be because while I attended Catholic schools on and off in my life, I didn’t have the chance to attend Catholic high school. Working in one for the past 2+ years has made me wonder what that might be like.
So when Year 2 of St. Agnes Academy’s Student for a Day program rolled around, I raised my hand. Today was the first of four days where faculty and staff will experience a day in the classroom. I was picked to live the day as a senior, and I’ll never look at my job the same again.
Today was a special schedule due to an assembly for Black History Month (shout out to all the students and faculty who worked so hard on it!). So the day started out in assembly uniform attire:
(While I might be playing the role of Lisa Chmiola ’16, this photo proves I’m not as young as I used to be, as I’m nursing a strained finger from gym class behind that fancy KT tape. I didn’t even know about taping in high school!)
After the assembly, it was off to a full day of classes. That also meant the uniform rules went to a more relaxed version as seen here. I’ll admit, the uniform was kind of awesome … it was very quick to get ready this morning, and being in a girls’ school, there wasn’t pressure to do up hair or even wear makeup:
As a senior, my schedule was pretty intense:
- Theology 4
- English 4
- Advanced Acting
- AP Statistics
- Honors AP Chemistry
- Creative Writing
What was different from my public high school experience is I felt more of a sense of community … even though most girls had no clue who I was (in my role, I don’t interact much with students unless they are a scholarship recipient and we are conducting a stewardship visit with the scholarship donor), they were pretty welcoming. The teachers also were great to accommodate me into their schedules.
The day gave me a greater understanding of what goes into the college preparatory experience. I have much respect for what the students juggle to take on the intense coursework (I had 2 hours of homework last night and that was just for three classes! I also did not take as advanced science and math in my high school.). I have a better understanding for what it must be like to parent a high schooler and help kids with that homework. And I really respect what the teachers go through to prepare up to seven classes worth a day of materials. As a conference presenter, I know what goes into just ONE 45-90 minute teaching session. My colleagues repeat that all day, five days a week, and my hat goes off to them.
This gives me a greater sense of empathy in working with our donors, who are often parents of current students or alumnae, or alumnae themselves. So to that conference presenter two years ago who encouraged getting an inside look at my organization, I thank you. And, I encourage my fellow development professionals to do the same in your organizations. Even if just for part of a day, experiencing our organizations through the eyes of those it serves can provide a greater sense of understanding which can go a long way in fostering philanthropic relationships.