Madeline Vargas is currently a first year AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow, serving at Global Technology Preparatory School in East Harlem, NY.
1. Why did you decide to become an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow?
I decided to become an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow because I wanted to have the opportunity to discover if teaching was a possibility for me. I am currently in school majoring in Early Childhood Education, and plan to continue for my B.A. in English Literature with a concentration in Middle School and High School Education.
2. What has been one of the most transformative moments of your service?
As a Teaching Fellow, I have been able to make an impact amongst our 6th and 7th graders, through one-on-one counseling and circle time, working together in close collaboration for two hours in our STEM courses, and reaching out bi-weekly to parents. Additionally, by developing and maintaining a good rapport with the first shift teachers, we are able to support them in delivering lessons in a more effective and creative way, focusing on inclusion, taking that extra step to improve the educational community at Global Tech Prep.
Our program has given students the resources and opportunities to excel, and everyday my peers and I aim for excellence in learning and educating our young scholars. Through our clubs and apprenticeships, we give them the 21st century skills that they will need to apply in their everyday lives moving forward. We demonstrate through sharing our own personal stories with our students that there is a world of possibilities for all of them and that dreams are attainable. I am proud of saying “I am a citizen schools Teaching Fellow and I feel very empowered when I see that my kids achieve what they believe is impossible.” I am part of a great regional team: CSNY - we set the bar high!.
3. How has service changed you and your perspective of the world?
My time at AmeriCorps has changed me in such a way; that I cannot be away from my students. I go home thinking about them and even when I'm sick and can’t come in to work, I feel I could never request a day off because I worry they will not perform as expected when I'm not there. I realize that every little bit that I do has helped the community, the first shift teachers, our students and it is also a reflection of our organization. The world would be a much better place if we all worked together for the sake of students who lack the proper resources to succeed, and one of the challenges that we have to deal with day to day is encountering individuals who are totally in this field for the kids. This is a battle we all have to fight every day. There are days when I push hard and go home feeling defeated, yet not realizing that because I have accomplished my deliverables, I have already won half that battle and the rest comes from seeing the rewards of my students getting that “A”.
4. If you could summarize your year of service in one word, which one would it be? Why?
I would summarize this first year of service in one word: challenging. When I started working at my site, a lot of the staff was new and the school had undergone some changes at the administrative level. It took me two months to win the trust and loyalty of my students, and I accomplished it through persistence in communicating with parents on a weekly basis, demonstrating them that citizen schools is the best program for their kids, and through being able to deeply connect and make an impact on my students.