The below interview was featured on DePauw University's Live & Learn: The Hubbard Center Blog. Sarah, a current DePauw student, participated in Metro from 4th-8th grade and returned this summer to work as a Character Education & Innovation teacher for Metro's One-on-One program.
Summer Internship: Sarah Salazar - Metro Achievement Program, Chicago
AUGUST 26, 2015
Name: Sarah Salazar
Internship Host & Location: Metro Achievement Center, Chicago, Ill.
How did you learn about this opportunity?
I participated in the Metro Achievement Program four years in my youth. When I was a rising 4th grader, my mom wanted me to do an activity over the summer to help me grow, and she found out about the program through a church member. The program includes academics; electives such as sports, music, and art; and fun activities for students as well as parent meetings for the family. Since then, my family and I have been a part of the Metro community, and my brothers also attended the partnering program for boys, known as Midtown. Metro always stood out to me as a space to express my talents without the distraction of boys or technology, to gain support from mentors and to develop my character and values.
Why were you interested in the position?
I was interested in working on staff this summer mainly to give back to a community I support. Metro has a warm and welcoming atmosphere as soon as you walk in the door. The women on staff work very hard to demonstrate individual attention, a care for parent education and respect towards each girl and her intellectual, personal and spiritual development. The environment is all-women, dynamic and Christian-influenced, which really helps Metro be the unique space it is. Lastly, I wanted to be a Teaching Assistant in order to support students in the classroom and in their personal and social lives.
What did your internship entail?
The internship began with a week of orientation for all the staff members and continued with two different program sessions for a total of 7 weeks of my summer. Throughout that time, I wore many hats as I worked with the 4-6th graders. I helped the students in science class by clarifying questions, refocusing their attention towards the teacher and assisting them with their tasks when they struggled; taught and developed the curriculum for Character Education for the 6th graders; designed and taught the curriculum for the Innovation/Problem Solving class with another TA; walked students to their classes; chaperoned weekly field trips; called parents in English and Spanish to remind them of parent meetings and more.
What was your most memorable experience?
My most memorable experience was teaching my 6th graders about confidence in their Character Education class. This virtue is critical to teach girls as they develop a sense of self and discover their individual role in the community around them. I was very proud of my class when they recognized the differences between false and true confidence. One girl wrote in feedback about this lesson: “I have reflected, and all this time I have had fake confidence, thinking that I was so confident, but I wasn’t.” This quote was very important to me as one of my students realized true confidence comes from within, builds others up and is grounded in humility.
What was your most challenging situation, and how did you address it?
Classroom management and discipline were by far the most challenging for me as a first-time teacher in the classroom. I had a clique in one of my classes and one time, they were communicating across the room as an adult was speaking. I was nervous about addressing it, but I spoke to one of the girls individually and directly told her she was disrespecting the speaker. I then asked her what she should do to fix the behavior and gave her feedback ... the conversation was awkward, but learning to address issues directly with students was a great skill to practice this summer.
How does this experience connect to your long-term goals?
My long-term goal is to become a speech-language pathologist for children, in which I will identify speech, cognitive and other types of communication problems to help children overcome their difficulties. I may find myself working with a child one-on-one, in a small group or in the classroom, so they can become the best communicators they can be. For this reason, my experience teaching reinforced my desire to work with youth and in an educational setting. At Metro, I looked forward to work each day understanding I was making a difference in their lives and helping them with their learning. I also practiced one-on-one interaction skills, which is an essential skill when giving therapy and assisting others with their rehabilitation process.