21st Century Community Learning Center, Pittsfield, MA
This summer I had the amazing opportunity to work in Pittsfield with the 21st Community Learning Center as a middle school teacher. I worked with Reid Middle School for my Winter Study as a writing intern for the month of January and loved it so much that I wanted to come back and help out again in the summer. The project was to create a pilot summer program featuring high-quality project-based learning for middle school students to attend in July. We focused on a local river for students to clean up and developed the curriculum around hands-on, team-based tasks that promoted the social, emotional and intellectual growth of these students. The program was aimed toward students whose parents were working in the summer or those who could not afford to go to other summer programs. We focused on making the summer program a fun and memorable experience, while also growing their abilities to think critically and to work with each other outside of a classroom environment.
I spent May and June helping the teachers at Herberg and Reid develop the curriculum. Then, in July we launched the summer program for middle school students. Unfortunately, due to funding and logistics the majority of the curriculum couldn’t be piloted, however, we still had a summer program full of various team-building activities, engineering projects and programs for students to express and explore their interests. Students were given projects such as building a catapult in teams. Using their critical thinking skills, applying what they learned in class during the school year, and relying on teamwork, each team designed a catapult to launch a projectile as far as possible.
My aspiration is to go into medicine, more specifically pediatrics, and I wanted to have the experience of working with students and children to expose myself to those environments as frequently as possible. Throughout the internship, I relearned how hard and tiring middle school really can be, but I enjoyed every second of it. I had to learn how to think on my feet with the constant flurry of questions the students had. What I learned and appreciated most from the teachers was a never-ending smile and calmness even when things turned into absolute chaos among the students. It was always a warm reminder to know that I worked with such amazing people that truly loved the kids and wanted to aid in their growth. Seeing that kind of composure and joy among the teachers was what I learned the most throughout this internship—knowing that the career I want to be in really is composed of a lot of love and patience for the kids.
I would really like to thank everyone who made this opportunity a possibility. I had an unforgettable time this summer working with the teachers and students and wouldn’t have been able to commute back and forth without this grant. I had an amazing time and will never forget how much fun it was.