Our Teaching Fellows -- AmeriCorps members serving a two-year term -- are the heart of Citizen Schools. Every day on our middle school campuses, Teaching Fellows collaborate with school teachers to create lesson plans and provide customized academic support. They work together to provide mentorship to students with varying needs. And over the course of their service term, they build meaningful relationships with volunteers and families.
In our first installment of “Get to Know a Teaching Fellow,” meet Paige Clark. As a first year Teaching Fellow, Paige serves at Joseph George Middle School in East San Jose. As one of her team’s Volunteer Coordinators, Paige welcomes and on-boards volunteer Citizen Teachers to the Joseph George school community.
Why did you decide to become a Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools California? I happened to stumble upon the Teaching Fellowship during my job search. I was struggling with the decision of working for a nonprofit or in a school as an educator. Luckily, I managed to find the perfect combination of the two with Citizen Schools! I knew this was the job for me, because it combined getting to work with students while also having a campus-specific job that allows me to contribute to our group and larger organization. Though I didn’t have too much knowledge of California prior to moving here, I knew it would also be a good opportunity to practice speaking Spanish while experiencing a new place. I am happy to be serving Citizen Schools in California, and I feel like it was truly a perfect fit for me.
What has been one of the most transformative moments of your service? OR Do you have a favorite WOW! Moment so far?
Honestly I do not know where to begin because after settling into the Teaching Fellowship I feel like there have been so many transformative moments. I truly treasure the smaller moments I get to have one-on-one with my students. This could be anything from them wanting to open up and share a personal story to a bonding moment, or even when I can see a concept from one of their classes finally clicks. I think as a community the best event has to be the WOW! because it is the culmination of the students’ hard work. The WOW! is an incredible opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate 10 weeks of learning about something completely new. Last semester at our WOW! I got to listen to my 3D Printing students talk about the 3D Printer we used in class, how to navigate TinkerCad software, as well as how they designed their final items. It was mind-blowing to see them present so confidently about something I hadn’t learned about until college. These conversations, as well as daily observations, are the driving forces and motivation in my work.
How has service changed you and your perspective of the world?
Service has always been an important part of my life; however, prior to now it was a passion done around my school schedule. Now that service is my full time job I am able to fully devote all my time and energy to it, which has been an enlightening experience. My service has also started to change how I view things in everyday life. From helping someone jumpstart their car to taking my work time or lunch to sit down with a student and work with them one on one, I now find myself embracing any and every opportunity that comes my way. I also believe the service mindset has helped me develop strong relationship with my coworkers and work more collaboratively as a team. We are all driven by similar dedication and it makes for a dynamic work environment.
What apprenticeship do you wish you could have taken in middle school?
Honestly, I would have loved to take them all because when I was in middle school I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I think, if I had to choose, I would have taken Project ReRunway, a class focused on recycling design challenges. I would have been drawn to this class, not just because I am teaching this class now, but because I have always loved art. I also have always learned best by doing things with my hands and I like that everyday in Project ReRunway there is at least one new activity to work on!