Capturing the Citizen Teacher Experience: Part One

Albert Terc is a Risk Manager at Fidelity Investments in Newark, New Jersey. This fall he is volunteering as a Citizen Teacher. We will be following his apprenticeship experience in a series of stories. This is part one.  My name is Albert Terc and I am ready to change lives. By day I work at Fidelity Investments as a Risk Manager, helping clients mitigate risk and improve business practices.  But this fall, I will become something else.  For once a week at 4:00 p.m., I will be a Citizen Teacher.

I have chosen to volunteer with Citizen Schools New Jersey in Newark. I am leading an apprenticeship on documentary filmmaking, which is one of my lifelong hobbies. I film parades in New York City and blog about them. I like giving people an experience that brings back good memories for them. Volunteering with Citizen Schools is a way for me to share that experience with youth. The students will pick their own topics and learn how to shoot, edit and produce their own film.

Fidelity is a long-time partner of Citizen Schools. I first heard about the program from our public affairs director, and I saw how my company really gets involved with the kids. It was the type of volunteer opportunity I was looking for.  I want to show our youth that they can learn new things, and that adults from all walks of life are here to help them.

I have just completed the first step in the volunteer journey. I attended my first training session, and I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive, and didn't quite know what to expect. However, the staff put me at ease right away. They were very thorough with the material, and they gave us several different approaches to engage and motivate the students.

What I liked most about the training is the fact that I had an opportunity to learn from other people about their experiences. Other Citizen Teachers who had taught before, the Campus Directors and the Team Leaders all shared different parts of the whole experience.

Going into the classroom I think my biggest hurdle will be keeping everyone in my class on the same page. I know middle schoolers might not have the same attention spans as adults. It will definitely be a challenge to keep everyone together and have a polished finished product. However, I am co-teaching with another volunteer from the global business and technology services company Cognizant. We’ll be able to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other so it doesn’t become overwhelming.

I know it will be a challenge, but I am also excited about working with the students. I am looking forward to watching them grow while learning about documentary films. My goal is for them to learn about what it takes to put a project together and collaborate to reach a finished product. If each student can demonstrate a level of confidence that our team goals can be reached, then on a personal level I feel I will have had a positive impact. Perhaps a student can discover leadership skills that he/she never knew existed before. As a Citizen Teacher, I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to strengthen 21st century skills for the students and make it a fun and pleasant experience for all of us.

Thinking about the upcoming first day with my students brings me back to when I was a child. Remember what it was like when you were at that age?  I’m sure you do. It helps when you have to relate to children. It’s going to be an exciting semester, and I can’t wait to get started!