Mar 18, 2019

Relay Resident Spotlight: Delisa Hamichand

Delisa Hamichand

PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.

I was born in Guyana and moved to New York at 12 years old. I grew up with both of my parents and three older siblings. With everything my siblings and I have done, my parents have always made sure that education was first and foremost in our lives. My mom was a teacher in Guyana for over 20 years and because of her love for learning, her children developed the same love and passion for learning. My parents taught my us that no matter where we end up, whether it be in a great place or a not so great place, it was our job to be the light wherever we go. It is because I knew that I needed to make the most out of every place or situation I am in, school was always where I excelled. In 2014, I was part of the first-ever graduating class at the High School for Community Leadership in Queens, NY, and I then went on to spend the next four years at Binghamton University, where in 2018 I earned my bachelors in English. I know that because of the level of investment and dedication to the students that I experienced at my high school, succeeding at Binghamton University was made easier for me. Because my high school was a new school, many students left early on because they did not believe the school would endure four years, however, I stayed and through it all, I made my high school experience what I wanted it to be with the help of so many dedicated teachers. I pushed myself to be the light and to make the most of my experience, just as my parents taught my siblings and me to be.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO DO THE WORK THAT YOU DO?

The one thing that inspires me to teach is the idea that I have the power to break down barriers of inequality that persists. I remember during the high school application period, I did not get into any of the high schools that I wanted to attend. I was told that because I started midway through seventh grade, I did not have enough grades for high schools to base my admissions to their schools on. The grades I did have were high nonetheless, but I still felt failed by the system. I was being told that because I am new to the country, I am not deserving of equal access to top performing high schools. This made me angry, but there was nothing I could do. However, I did not give up. I attended high school fairs and was lucky enough to meet the principal from the high school I eventually attended. I was accepted to this brand new school that saw and wanted me, which was more than enough for me. However, during my freshman year of high school, I saw waves of kids come and waves of kids leave, many of them not believing that our school could make it to point where it would see us through to graduation. I stayed. I stayed because in that very first year I was able to create clubs and see how equal access to education starts with the teacher standing in front of students. Equal access starts with the belief that every child can and will succeed if there are people willing to invest in their individual needs. Those were the types of teachers I saw standing in front of me every day. They inspired me to become a teacher and from then I learned that resources don't provide education, teachers are the ones who provide the experience of school and have a major impact on how far their students can and will go.

HOW HAS RELAY HELPED YOU TO BECOME A MORE IMPACTFUL TEACHER?

Relay has helped me in many ways to become an impactful teacher, but the one area that resonates with me the most is the amount of investment I see from the professors and advisors that I get to work with. My first year as a Resident has been completely different than I anticipated. I joined the team at Brownsville Middle School as a Humanities TIR, and by some twist of fate, I am now a Lead Computer Science Teacher while still fulfilling my role in literature where my ultimate goal is to teach next year. Because the trajectory of my year has changed, my personal needs in my development changed and I have found that Relay professors and advisors are ready and willing to support individual needs as they arise. My advisor, Stephanie Gamble is always thinking of ways that she can push my growth and development to the next step, whether that be giving me feedback, opportunities to re-do assignments, or even providing me with information about resources available at Relay that would help push my development forward. All of these things show me how deeply Relay cares about individual successes as well as cohort success and that is something that I will always remember because it has made my transitions into roles I never dreamed of taking on a lot easier.

At Relay, we truly believe that a teacher is one of the most impactful people in a students’ life. Can you share with us someone who has impacted your life in a similar way?

Someone who had the greatest impact on my life is my grandmother who passed away on my fifteenth birthday. I chose my grandmother because as a wife, a mother of nine children, and over twenty grandchildren, she never took a single one of her family members for granted. She remembered all of our birthdays and made sure she called, took care of us when our parents couldn't or had to work, taught us the importance of humility and kindness and how it doesn't take much to make a person feel loved, special, and feel like they have a friend that they can count on. Growing up, my grandmother was my best friend who I could call every afternoon after school and talk about my day with. She was the person who I would spend my summers with, and she was this person who was just always there, rooting for me to succeed. She was always proud. With her forgiving nature, starting over was always easy and because of that, her home became the safe haven everyone ran to when troubles would arise. Her unconditional love and sacrifice has taught me what it means to be a teacher who exudes warmth, love, but most importantly, a teacher who exudes kindness in the purest form. The footprint she has left on my life is that everyone deserves a million chances. My students make mistakes every day and some of them repeat it the next day, but it is my job to teach with love and kindness even when it feels like my students just aren't trying to be better. Because I approach my students with kindness and the belief that they will get it right and figure out this life in the best way possible, I am able to build trusting relationships with them. The same type of unwavering faith and belief my grandmother had in each person in her life, I try to apply that same trust and belief in my kids I teach every day.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT TEACHING IN YOUR CITY/TOWN?

There are many days where it's hard for me to say this because teaching middle schoolers is really, really hard, but at the end of the day, the one thing I love about teaching in Brownsville are the kids. I know that many of them outside of school walls, live very difficult lives and yet they show up each day with so much joy and hope for the future. They say the wittiest things, hunt me down in the hallways, create secret handshakes with their teachers, get up out of their seats without permission, act like they don't hear when you're speaking to them, but at the end of the day, I love teaching them. I love hearing their jokes, laughter, responses to questions being asked in the classroom, and what I love even more is how I see them challenge each other think deeper into everything they are learning.

TELL US ONE WORD THAT YOU WOULD USE TO DESCRIBE YOUR STUDENTS. WHAT INSPIRES OR RESONATES WITH YOU ABOUT THEM THE MOST?

Emotionally joyous. I know that these are two words that could be contradictory. However, they work so well for my students. My students feel things deeply and they are not afraid to be vocal about those feelings. There are days where several of them could be hysterically crying in the hallways because of something they are going through or they can be yelling at a teacher one day and the next they just cannot stop laughing enough so that we can get through the lesson. This is a constant reminder that no day will ever be the same in this work and that I have to be ready to love my students through whatever type of day they are having.

Do you have a favorite quote, movie or book that helps motivate you & the work that you do?

I love Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde. My favorite quote from the book is "Because it proves that you don't need much to change the entire world for the better. You can start with the most ordinary ingredients. You can start with the world you've got." This book and quote remind me that sweating the little things that are right in front of me can lead to long term change.

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