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Tomorrow’s Teachers, Today’s TAs

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Tomorrow’s Teachers, Today’s TAs

Above is Senior Abby Gordon and her 2nd grade class on Halloween

Above is Senior Abby Gordon and her 2nd grade class on Halloween

Above is Senior Abby Gordon and her 2nd grade class on Halloween

Above is Senior Abby Gordon and her 2nd grade class on Halloween

Alexandra Truszkowska

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Abby shifts the gear, putting the car into park and takes a deep sigh. From 1:30 to 2:30pm, she’s no longer senior Abby Gordon but Miss Abby, and in charge of eighteen  rowdy second graders at Memorial Elementary School in Montvale, NJ, just down the road from Pascack Hills. While this may seem out of realm for some, to her, this is just part of the internship she signed up for junior year.

 

A typical weekday begins at 8AM with her four morning period class which include Gym, Language Myth and Culture, and Psychology. She spends her lunch in a myriad of places like home, Chipotle, or at the recently opened Eons with friends before heading to Pascack Valley for her “Teacher Cadet Program”.

 

Every Monday, Thursday, and Friday after lunch, Abby drives to PV for the actual class, taught by Valley English teacher Casey Gotliffe. The class includes around 25 seniors from PH, PV, Emerson, and Park Ridge, all whom are interested in becoming educators, physical and occupational therapists, and even those who want to see if they like the profession.

 

Abby Gordon is one of five senior girls at Pascack Hills that takes part in Tomorrow’s Teachers, an internship offered by the PVRHSD in order to jumpstart the careers of these future educators.

 

I’ve always known that I wanted to be a teacher growing up, and this internship helped me to get the hands on experience in the classroom before deciding my major in college. It definitely helped me decide my career path in teaching!” Gordon says with a smile.

 

In the class taught with honors credit, a huge perk in itself,  seniors are able to work collaboratively on many topics usually taught in an college Education 101 class, like student learning barriers, special education qualifications, and teaching theories.

 

“By allowing senior students the opportunity to work with mentor teachers and students in the field they’re interested in – it saves time [figuring out college majors] and helps build bonds. If a kid works in the district as an intern and comes back in four years with a degree and they have the relationships from high school – they’re more likely to get the job” says Gotliffe, who has been running the class for over 4 years.

 

But after the class ends, these seniors go to the second part of internship: the hands on, in-class TA work which allows the students real life experience in a classroom.

 

Gordon says that the best part of the job is seeing direct results. “Helping a student and seeing them understand what you taught them is an indescribable feeling. To watch someone grasp a topic that you personally helped them get to is truly amazing.”

 

Abby works in the class with the students individually and in a collaborative setting. Some days she helps students improve their reading and writing, some days she’s reading a story, and some days she’s making copies.

 

“I come in at around 1:30 everyday when the students are just arriving back from lunch. For the first few moments, the students settle back in by completing work that they needed help with or didn’t finish in the morning. Then, depending on the day, the activities we do vary. Sometimes I guide them through a scholastic learning, sometimes they are doing math and I get to pull students aside who are struggling and give them a little one on one time. It’s different every day that I’m there and I like how I get to see different parts of what they learn” says Gordon.

 

While she loves what she does, it’s not always butterflies and sunshine down in room 233. “I think the hardest part is since they know I’m in high school, they don’t treat me the same as the teacher. It’s hard for them to see me as a teacher and not a babysitter.” Gordon says.

 

But, she’s had a relatively easy time fitting in compared to others. “She’s lucky! I work in a kindergarten setting and had a student pee on me during the first few weeks … she’s so lucky nothing like that has happened to her!” spills senior Sophie Donofrio who also works at Memorial Elementary alongside Abby.

 

Next fall, Abby will be joining the SUNY Cortland class of 2023 majoring in inclusive childhood education with a double certification in special education. She chose this because she wants to be an elementary school teacher and have the option to do special education as well.

 

In the future, Abby still wants to work with second graders or with any elementary level. Maybe she’ll even have one of her old students intern under her.

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