Weiwei Lu ’23

Pittsfield Public Schools, Pittsfield, MA

This summer, I interned at Pittsfield Public Schools as a curriculum development intern working on knowledge-building resource sets for the fifth grade. The core of our work this summer was to address the national education crisis—what we call the “knowledge gap”—by adding nuance and supplemental content to the Into Reading textbooks and to support teachers. I had previously worked this same position during Winter Study, so I led the work flow in the beginning of the summer. In particular, I really appreciated the collaboration with my fellow interns. As someone who has done a much shorter version of this internship before, I understand how initially confusing the work can be; but our supervisor, Ryan Buggy, and his team at the curriculum department were very helpful and proactive in providing us with feedback.

Throughout this summer, our team completed a total of seven knowledge-building sets spanning the fifth-grade curriculum, covering a variety of topics from immigration to climate change to the history of human flight. We had many meetings with teachers and principals across the district in the process, and everybody offered us valuable feedback regarding accessibility of our text sets. (For example, we ended up including many large sections on phonetics and Latin roots to help expand the vocabulary of the students.) Toward the end of the summer, we also started meeting with other Pittsfield district interns who were working on different projects such as developing a social studies curriculum. It was a bit challenging navigating the many exciting changes happening within the district, since the interns working on different projects didn’t really get a chance to talk to each other and share their work. It was incredibly fulfilling to get the opportunity to deeply engage with America’s education crisis, and we ended up receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from the teachers.

Since I am beginning to think about my career options post-grad, this internship helped me build on many transferable skills, such as communication, analysis, research and writing. I have already learned a lot from Ryan, my supervisor, and he is continuing to connect us with people with different backgrounds in the district we could learn from. It feels good to put these skills into action and really try to create the best knowledge-building sets possible in order to supplement the learning of younger students. Especially since I’ve done the same internship during the winter, it has been really rewarding to unofficially lead a team and provide guidance to my team members.

I would like to thank Ryan, the Class of 1972, and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for giving me the opportunity to work with such a great team for a great cause. I believe that our work will serve an important purpose in the future of elementary education in the Pittsfield district and beyond, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing how our knowledge-building sets will be implemented into the curriculum in the coming years.