Pittsfield Public Schools, Pittsfield, MA
In some ways, my summer internship began in January. That’s when I met my supervisor, Ryan Buggy ’19, and a co-intern, Cinthya Maldonado ’23, as we pioneered the wINTERNship program between the Pittsfield Public Schools (PPS) and Williams. In that three-week sprint, Cynthia and I fit culturally diverse and academically enriching novels into PPS’s middle school classrooms: meeting with ELA teachers to determine what resources they would need, writing teaching guides for each novel, and eventually pitching the books to several superintendents.
Returning for the summer, I faced an exciting set of challenges. I was grateful for the chance to deepen my working relationships with Ryan and Cynthia and to make new connections with additional Williams interns, who brought so many great ideas to the table! I first worked on replicating the book guides program at the elementary level. As an intern team, we selected five books per grade from the Into Reading ELA textbook which showcased some form of diversity. Then, we wrote full book guides for these texts, including cultural competency explanations and Common Core-aligned project proposals. Another project involved writing questions for an event called the Battle of the Books, incentivizing students to read books outside of their elementary classrooms through a game-show style competition. I drafted hundreds of questions for the Battle. We also pitched all 28 books for the 2022-2023 Battle using a whole new set of texts. These novels are contemporary, fun reads which put underrepresented identities on center stage. Other projects included drafting a civics unit on the 1619 Project in accordance with a Pulitzer Center grant, as well as adapting an equity training from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for use in Pittsfield’s professional development. On each of these steps, Ryan offered insightful feedback and connected us with relevant stakeholders. We also gathered as a cohort each week for informational sessions about teaching, which covered topics like classroom management, how to grade meaningfully, and how teachers adapt lesson plans based on formative assessments.
In addition to on-the-job knowledge, I’m grateful to have had candid conversations with industry professionals. Guided by the ASIP Intern Pathway Program, I connected with professionals in and out of PPS. From Howie Marshall, the Professional Development Coordinator at Pittsfield, I learned about the steps to teacher certification in Massachusetts. From Alex Jones ’14, a current teacher I connected with on EphLink, I received guidance about the on-campus resources available for students interested in teaching. I reconnected with my internship supervisor from 2020, Emily Gaertner, who gave an incredibly personalized survey of the entry-level education positions I might be interested in applying to. And I worked with Judy Rush, the Director of Curriculum, to secure a substitute teaching position at PPS for the fall semester.
Moving forward, this internship has confirmed my interest in education and given me actionable ways to continue it. I’m excited to further my partnership with Pittsfield Public Schools during my senior fall, I have a clear idea of the full-time positions that I’ll apply to within education, and I feel empowered by the support network I have discovered.