Meet Danielle! A 2016 graduate of Rutger University with a communications degree now working as a Fellow at Penn Treaty High School, this New Jersey native has made Philadelphia her new home. We are so happy to work with her and see how much she has valued working with us.
Everytime I try to brainstorm what I want to write about 12+ and my foundational moments as a Fellow, one word always flashes like a marquee: community. I was more than a little intimidated to start this job, as I’ve always felt like a very awkward person with peers, younger people, older people, and pretty much the entire universe. I moved here a few months ago, and for a while the loneliness of a new, big city was so tangible that it was almost suffocating. I feel endless gratitude for the open arms of Penn Treaty and 12+ who have made this city an actual home for me. Getting to work alongside people who have become important friends and students who continue to inspire me to do my best has made Philadelphia feel a little smaller and less intimidating. I’m far from a morning person, but waking up in the morning to walk the hallways of Penn Treaty and see dozens of smiling faces, wishing me a good morning and even throwing me a compliment about my outfit every now and again. In fact, I feel lucky to get up every morning and take my blissful walk to work, running into a few students on the way.
I have a community in my neighborhood now, which is one of the biggest perks of working at Penn Treaty. It’s been comforting joy to see so many familiar, friendly faces around Fishtown. It warms my entire existence to see how much the teachers and administration at Penn Treaty genuinely care about this community, and reaffirms that this is where I belong and will thrive. The proof of the community that exists within Penn Treaty was exhibited one Saturday morning a few months ago during a community service event. It was the most wonderful day I’ve had in a long time and I had the opportunity to recruit my roommates to volunteer with painting murals at Penn Treaty through City Year. I was so excited to have them see the school, as well as all of the teachers, students, and community members come together on a Saturday morning to get covered in paint for the sake of this beautiful school.
I find myself thinking a lot about myself in high school, and how I wanted to keep to myself and be a stubborn, cranky teenager. It makes me the most blown away kind of happy when I see the stark contrast between my own behavior and how outgoing and invested these students are. My heart grows approximately three sizes each time a student pops into the PLUS Center simply to say hi, or I hear “Miss, I want to play YOU in chess today”, or a student wants to share their art with me. When this happens, I know that I am exactly where I need to be. I can’t wait to see how much our students can continue to help me to grow and learn (especially in chess, which they graciously and patiently teach and re-teach me on a regular basis). Everything that seems challenging that comes along with being a 12+ Fellow also comes along with a major positive too. I am overwhelmed by the compassion that Penn Treaty students show me every day. I am happy beyond articulation, I am lucky to know our Penn Treaty students, and I am thankful for 12+.