Every summer, Practice Makes Perfect (PMP) runs a summer fellowship program whereby aspiring educators get the opportunity to receive real-life teaching experience, making a positive impact on the students that need it the most in New York City.
During their time, our fellows serve as head classroom teachers. They’re able to attend professional development sessions led by industry leaders and they get to learn about their future job prospects. Better yet, they gain more than 40 hours of teacher training, equipping them with the skills they need to become even better educators.
Efi Ramirez Castro, who worked as a fellow, later came back to join the program as an Education Leader within the team. Here, she tells us about her experience working with PMP.
Hi Efi, I’m so grateful you took the time to talk to me about your experience at Practice Makes Perfect. So, how was it?
I’ve actually worked with Practice Makes Perfect twice now – one summer as a fellow followed by another as an education leader. Both offered me different experiences. I joined the fellowship program during the summer right after my graduation. It was a great experience and also my first one teaching a classroom of kids. The fellowship allowed me to learn a lot about myself. Better yet, it allowed me to find out what type of teacher I really wanted to be. During my time, I learned to better plan my lessons and I also got the support I needed to become the teacher I am today.
As an Education Leader, I learned more about how the system works. There is so much that goes into running a school and teaching our kids. This program allowed me to see it first hand. I learned about the bureaucracy behind the school system and was able to communicate with the principal about these aspects.
Because of my previous experience, I had the skills and knowledge to assist teaching fellows and give them advice, helping them work through their experience. I love the fact that by sharing and growing from my own experience, I could also help them become better teachers.
How do you feel your experience at PMP helped you most?
Practice Makes Perfect really helped me work out what type of teacher I wanted to be. I know I mentioned this above, but I feel there are two types of teachers – those that do the bare minimum and those who go above and beyond. Thanks to PMP, I learned to be more creative with my lessons and it paid off. When I went back to the same school, my old students remembered me. It made me realize that by making my lessons memorable, I could make a positive impact on these children.
One aspect of PMP that I really love is the connections you make through the program. Just meeting Karim allowed me to connect with others, let alone the other great people who were there during my fellowship. Today, I’m working at a school where the principal worked with PMP. I am also doing a pen pal exchange with another fellow from the year I graduated. It’s incredible to meet people with the same passion and commitment – and collaborating on projects is great.
What did you go on to do straight after your time as a Fellow and an Education Leader and what are your goals for the future?
After my summer as a fellow at PMP, I moved to France to work as a teacher before coming back to work as an Education Leader for the program. Then, I started teaching Spanish at the school I’m currently working at.
My dream is to become a speech pathologist. Because I didn’t major in the subject at college, I’m now studying online while working full-time. I’ve also applied to grad school and am hoping to be accepted for next fall. Working as a speech-language pathologist in a school study is my dream.
Do you have any funny or eye-opening experiences that really stuck with you since your fellowship or time as an Education Leader?
At the end of the program, we ran a summer showcase with the students on social justice. It was so powerful to see students leading the projects and watching their level of engagement. I feel like people often think that young people are just kids, that they don’t have any ideas established for themselves. This project proved otherwise. It showed that children have a voice, that they have opinions forming from a very young age, and that these opinions truly matter.
This was one of the most powerful and eye-opening experiences I was part of during my time as a fellow. Working with these scholars showed me that, yes they are young, but they’re also powerful and they want people to see the bigger picture through their creativity.
What would you say is the key reason you’re so committed to your work?
I’m from New York City, born and raised. During my undergrad, I majored in education. This program focused on urban education and aligned perfectly with PMP. I guess my passion comes from my upbringing. By working in communities that need leaders as well as teachers who want to be there, I feel like I’m giving back to my city. I want my students to know that even though we live where we do, we can always get out of the situation we’re in and explore new parts of the world. Basically, I want to encourage my children to reach for their dreams.