Erin Baudo Felter, Citizen Schools California’s newest board member and the Director of Employee & Community Impact at Zynga.org, shares her insights, including why she is excited to work with Citizen Schools and which apprenticeship she would have taken in middle school!
How did you first become involved with Citizen Schools?
I came to know Citizen Schools through my work with Tipping Point Community, which identifies, funds and empowers the most effective poverty-fighting organizations in the Bay Area. Though I work with dozens of amazing nonprofits in my capacity as Zynga.org’s Director of Employee & Community Impact, I was eager to invest more of my personal time with one of Tipping Point’s education grantees. After learning more about Citizen Schools and meeting the team (and the students!), I immediately wanted to get more involved.
What are you most excited about in becoming a board member?
Two things really. The first is to learn as much as I can – both about the macro challenges and opportunities around education for underserved students and about how organizations like Citizen Schools work to make an impact. The second is to figure out how I can help push that good work forward.
Do you have a favorite WOW moment? Did anything surprise you about the students?
I love seeing the confidence the students gain by becoming “experts” in their apprenticeships. And they aren’t shy about sharing what they know! At benefitEd, two students had my husband and me locked in an intense, head-to-head battle to see who could build a more stable structure using only popsicle sticks and binder clips. It was girls vs. boys – the students were our coaches, cheering us on, and we hurriedly built and tested our constructions. It wasn’t easy, but it was a lot of fun! And, by the way...the girls won!
Why do you think it’s important to provide students with real world/ hands on opportunities?
I am a big believer in the power of real-world applications to engage students in learning. Ask any student if they’d rather learn computer science or design a video game, if they’d rather solve physics equations or build a bridge. The answer is clear. Applications are an amazing tool to motivate and empower students. Combine that with passionate, expert volunteer teachers, and you start to realize the power of Citizen Schools’ approach.
Which apprenticeship would your middle-school-self have taken and why?
When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with being an astronaut, so something astronomy or space-related would have been my pick, no doubt.
If you could teach any apprenticeship (the sky is the limit) what would it be?
I think it would be fun to teach students how they can become historians of their own families and cultures – and to build a family tree!