Where Are You From?: Learning on Location

Where Are You From?: Learning on Location

Marie Carolina Hornsby (Charleston County School District, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5879-8.ch009
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This chapter describes the author's experiences as a student and teacher in the context of the various relationships and backdrops of my development, including rural South Carolina, the suburbs of Long Island, and Center City Philadelphia. School was the one constant that she could count on between frequent moves to new places throughout her life. She quickly developed a desire and a need to fit in to her surroundings wherever her family was located. This awareness helped her see past the differences of those around her, forge relationships, and adapt to the variety of cultural and physical environments despite any struggles. Throughout all of her homes and schools, her goals were always the same: be a good person, try not to be too competitive or bossy, and one day become a teacher. Now that she is a teacher and teacher coach, she uses these experiences and memories to help foster her new goal: to make sure her students and their families feel comfortable in the school community.
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Becoming A Teacher And Leader

Family Background

My mom is the oldest of four children born into an Irish-Italian-Catholic family. Her aunt, my nana’s older sister, lived around the corner and had seven children of her own. I was raised on stories of all nine girls and two boys growing up together, attending the same schools, conspiring as teenagers, becoming each other’s godparents, and most importantly, being together for all holidays and major life events. I am the first-born of my cousins on this side. There are currently 22 of us. Being the oldest of all the kids gave me my first taste of classroom management. I have always adored being around my cousins and their parents.

My dad is the third of four boys born to elite southern parents who would still be fighting the Civil War if they were alive today. My dad and his brothers were raised with both parents, though they divorced when my dad was 11 years old. When their parents couldn’t be there, the boys had an African-American nanny who would take care of them. Though I can trace these roots back almost 200 years further than my mom’s side, they never seemed as close as my family in New York. I was raised on stories of our family’s history and contribution to the development of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. I have exactly two cousins on this side, both boys. I was the first girl born to our family in almost 75 years.

My early years were peppered with moves between different spots on the South Carolina coast and beach towns on Long Island. I had an early love of books and learning to write my name. It’s still my favorite thing to doodle. I had Madeline memorized by the time I was three. My dad would get bored reading the same stories over and over, so he would read them to me in Gullah as well. From my birth until age ten, my family and I redefined “us” as my parents fought to keep their marriage intact and compromised over and over on where to raise a family. We moved back and forth between New York and South Carolina so constantly that I still get antsy every two years or so and need to make some sort of change in my life.

During one of our layovers in New York, my brother was born. I was almost four years old and was very much accustomed to being the center of attention. My parents made sure to send me to a class with other kids who were about to become older siblings for the first time. I earned a button that said “Prepared Big Sister” when the class was over. I was so proud of my accomplishment and bragged about it until high school. It wasn’t until I finished college that I realized my parents had sent me to counseling so I wouldn’t resent my new baby brother. To this day, they bring up that button if I ever complain about him.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Elon University: An independent institution of higher learning located in Elon, NC that focuses on experience-based learning.

College of Charleston: A public institution of higher learning located in Charleston, SC that houses the University of Charleston, South Carolina for research-based graduate study.

Edisto Island: A rural sea island located outside of Charleston, South Carolina.

Teaching: The act of providing experiences for students to develop knowledge.

Learning: The act of developing knowledge through experiences or research.

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