On Wednesdays and Fridays I volunteer as a mentor at Jennings Elementary School in New London with Enrichment, a program sponsored by Connecticut College Community Partnerships. Through this program I help students in third, fourth and fifth grade work on improving their math skills. Since coming to Conn, I have become very interested in the philosophy of education and the impact education has on people. I decided to volunteer to learn more and broaden my views about education.
Doing this work has instilled in me a great sense of responsibility. These students count on me as a model, and in math I have to show them not just how to solve a problem, but how to do so without others’ help. Teaching is really hard; I’m glad I didn’t write any excessively optimistic philosophy papers on education before coming to Jennings! At the same time, there are many great aspects to the work. As I wrote earlier this semester, a professor here told me that one of the best experiences a teacher can have is seeing students succeed outside the classroom. I know that every day the students I work with at Jennings take the skills they work on after school to their regular math classes, and I’m glad that I have a role in their success outside of the program.
One of my favorite parts of Enrichment is seeing how happy the students are whenever I enter the classroom, and I know this is because they respect me for respecting and believing in their ability to succeed in math and beyond. As the semester continues, I see how these students grow; how they adapt the behaviors I’ve modeled for them. In one of the orientation sessions for the program, a teacher at the school told me that elementary school students are incredibly impressionable and will notice many of the things you do. I realize that I have to make sure these students don’t adapt any of my bad habits! Overall I’m very happy knowing that through Enrichment I have had at least a small impact on the lives of these students as they mature and grow.