Most FIT grads are snapped up by the industry soon after commencement, and sometimes well before. But not everyone straps on the nine-to-five harness so quickly. Caitie McCabe, Photography ’10, enrolled in City Year and spent the year in Baton Rouge, LA, helping at-risk kids graduate the eighth grade.
McCabe, who photographed the International Trade and Marketing practicum in India for the summer 2012 issue of Hue, worked as a tutor and mentor in English and Math for sixth through eighth grade. “My entire job was to care about these kids,” she says.
Unfortunately, No Child Left Behind leaves behind lots of children who don’t pass the standardized tests after fourth and eighth grades. Some kids (and their parents) don’t grasp its importance. Others are sick on test day. Still more get stuck with a lousy teacher that year, or have an undiagnosed learning disability. And because of Hurricane Katrina, an entire class of students wasn’t tested for disabilities, and many student files were lost. “Then you have a kid who’s 16 or 17 and in eighth grade, and high school and college seem further and further away.”
Pregnancy is also a threat to high-school graduation. McCabe says that most of the school districts don’t teach sex ed, and MTV’s 16 and Pregnant glamorizes teenage pregnancy.
The work wasn’t easy. Originally 10 volunteers worked at the school. By the end of the year, that number had been whittled to four. The team leader quit from loneliness. Another tutor took at job at the local fire department.
Most City Year volunteers, she says, do it as a resume-builder for graduate school. McCabe did it partly to see if she wanted to become a teacher. She was thrilled to see that all of her eighth graders graduated–but she found that teaching wasn’t for her.
Considering what she went through, Hue is not surprised.