Greg Beach is a First Year Teaching Fellow at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, MA. He is a Tufts University Alumni, Class of 2011.
At the outset of my senior year of college at Tufts, I thought I knew who I was and where I was going. Truth be told, I knew little than as I know little now. However, I had sufficiently gathered my thoughts and experiences together to understand one truth: the pursuit of a just and sustainable society would motivate me for the rest of my life. The question of how to harness this energy and channel it into something meaningful was daunting. Fortunately, it did not take long before I discovered my path forward in the Citizen Schools Teaching Fellowship.
Having worked in urban education for most of my college career, Citizen Schools seemed a logical next step. I was drawn particularly to Citizen Schools because of its innovative model and advocacy for change. The powerful need for out-of-the-box thinkers and community involvement in education is embodied in the apprenticeship, what I see to be the core of Citizen Schools. I have felt that the content that students receive in school can be narrow, impractical and disconnected from the world. The apprenticeship model alleviates this by exposing students to the world beyond the school walls and engaging them with relevant content that provides a glimpse into their potential future.
I knew that I wanted to support a program that pioneered this sort of innovation and exploration and I knew that I wanted to play the role of educator/mentor. It just made sense. Having completed almost a year of the Fellowship, I can confidently say that I am glad that I became a Teaching Fellow. The Fellowship experience can be very frustrating, in more ways than one. That being said, this frustration can produce some fantastic ideas and inspire innovative action. Some of my proudest accomplishments as a Fellow have resulted from a frustration with the status quo and a desire to provide a more enriching experience for my students. There have been spectacular failures in my stumble to refine my teaching style and integrate new content. Still, there is a strong sense of progress in the work of a Fellow. We are building something spectacular, even if it is unclear exactly what it is we’re building.
In addition to the professional and personal growth fueled by the Fellowship, the connections made as a Fellow are invaluable. I have met so many inspiring, kind people, too many to count, during my Fellowship. A veritable think-tank of creative innovators exists in the Fellows' Circle, where constructive conversations abound and Fellows are always available to lend a helping hand. Regardless of where we all end up after the Fellowship, I am certain that the friendships I’ve built and the connections I’ve made will stay with me for years to come.
Finally, I am proud to be a Fellow because I am proud to serve my students. Sometimes I wonder what impact I am making, if I am having a positive effect on my students. My concerns are calmed when I think about the bonds that I’ve built with my students and the space that we have created in our classroom. It’s not perfect, far from it, but I think our work together is a significant step towards the learning environment that my students need and that I want to create. I will never forget my first team, in its successes and its failures, and will use the lessons they’ve taught me for the rest of my life.
Apply to be a Teaching Fellow today! The final deadline is Friday, May 18th.