Return to Sender

by Nicholas Schiavo on February 6, 2020

Return to Sender

by Nicholas Schiavo on February 6, 2020

If you told me in my senior year of high school that I would spend the rest of my career there, I would have laughed and walked away. I was so ready to graduate and forget about the awkward, embarrassing, and goofy four years I just spent in school. 

Nicholas Schiavo posing for a photo with 3 students in a hallway.

Yet there I was, on Oct. 3, 2019, figuring out where to park at Cheltenham High School, where I’d carry our my nine-week field experience.

Field work was a major part of my education class last semester, so choosing the right time to go was key. Unfortunately for me, all I could fit into my schedule was 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. every Thursday. This was a struggle in and of itself—not to mention that, on my first day, I was so lost. It was raining hard, visibility was tough, and after following my GPS, I found a lot that looked right. I didn’t realize that I needed an ID card to get into that part of the building, so I waited for a teacher, who said “yeah, you have to go to the front of the school, and you can’t park back here either.” I scurried back to my car, only to find someone waiting for me to get out of their designated parking spot. Her waiting for me also held up the rest of the lot, so I can only imagine what their unsupervised homerooms looked like when those teachers finally got in. 

Whipping out of that disaster was chaos, but I managed to get a spot, grab my visitor’s pass, and find the main office. A teacher took me to my classroom—and there I was, officially back in high school. 

I did not know what to expect from it. The school and student body were so much larger than mine. In a way, I was the new kid all over again. It was up to them to socialize with me; I had no control. Luckily, the other teachers were nice, and some of the more social butterflies talked with me. Due to my schedule on Thursdays, I was able to stay longer than required, so I created stronger bonds with students and teachers alike. 

Group photo in a classroom of Nicholas Schiavo and a Cheltenham class.

I never realized how much of an impact I would make on everyone in the class—and the impact they made on me—until one of the last weeks. As I was coming and going over the two-month experience, I earned the trust of most of the people in the room. Students started coming to me for help, and teachers would let me teach the content. Toward the end of November, one of the teachers was proposing new projects for the students to present in front of the head-honchos of the program. I was in charge of taking some of the other students to observe, and I ended up networking with the right people. 

One of the teachers I worked with came over and explained just how much I meant to him and the kids. It reassured me that my career path is the right one, and that I have a chance to do really well in this field. Probably the most important thing I learned is that sometimes in life, it is necessary to go backward, in order to move forward.