In continuation of the "TF Spotlight" posts highlighting Citizen Schools AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellows' service experiences our next contribution comes by way of a second year fellow from the Bay State, Eli Hoffman! We hope you take a moment to read Eli's reflections on his Teaching Fellow experience.
Why did you decide to become an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow?
I found out about the Fellowship through my older brother, who served as both a TA and TF with Citizen Schools for 3 years in Chelsea and Dorchester. My first experience working in education came in my senior year of college at UMass Amherst, where I interned at the Amherst Middle School as part of my practicum. While there, I worked in the Family Center and served as a mentor to students, whether through homework help or assisting students from the nearby high school with the college application process.I learned far more about Amherst as a community than I ever did in my previous three years there. Hearing about the stories of families there through the students themselves, as well as from my supervisor, spurred me to seek out job opportunities in education, particularly in populations and communities that are too often overshadowed. After receiving the offer, I learned that I would be placed at the William Monroe Trotter in Roxbury, which I myself attended for elementary school. Now in my second year of the fellowship, I could not be happier with where I am and I love that I am able to share that unique connection with the students.
What has been one of the most transformative moments of your service?
I think the most transformative moment of my service was working with my Lemonade Day apprenticeship in the Spring of my first year as a TF. After 10 weeks of learning what it takes to create and run a successful business, I went with my entire class of 15 fifth graders to set up a lemonade stand on the Northeastern University campus early on a Saturday morning. My anxiety of chaperoning 15 energetic 10-11 year olds in the middle of the city was soon diminished when I saw how they responded to the responsibility placed upon them. Within a couple short hours, they had made over $220, the large majority of which went to the charity, Christopher's Haven, that the students had voted on. Selling glasses for only $1, you can do the math of how many glasses they sold. I was simply blown away and that was the point where I truly saw the value in what I/we all are doing. I want nothing more than to continue to help give our students similar experiences.
How has service changed you and/or your perspective of the world?
While it is extremely rewarding, my time with Citizen Schools has also changed my perspective on many things: how teachers are viewed in our society, how I view my own experiences and privilege throughout my life, and how many children do not always get the support that they need, be it at school or at home. I cannot possibly move away from service or giving back in some way after this experience because I have been afforded so many opportunities in life based solely on where I was born and who I was born to. However, I remain optimistic about the future because I am surrounded by so many passionate and like-minded individuals who put the students first. I know that so many of my coworkers will go on to do great things and continue to make a positive impact on the world.