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High-Quality Education Puzzle

Practice Makes Perfect looks at the participants in our program as the crucial pieces needed to complete the puzzle that is providing a high-quality education to all.  From the mentors to the principals and everyone in between, each individual plays a vital role in making sure that the scholars succeed to the highest extent. In order for the pieces to complete the puzzle successfully and have a rewarding program, PMP delivers a full-service program that offers each participant all of the services necessary to achieve excellence.  Each of the specific benefits that the participants receive is listed below. Principals:

The last decision that principals have to make toward summer when they decide to have PMP run their summer program is to decide to have PMP run their summer school program. PMP’s program staff organizes everything from start to finish; we handle all of the logistical aspects that are needed to run a successful summer program from the second that schools decide that they want to partner with us. From the recruitment of the different participants (mentors, Teaching Fellows, and Teaching Coaches), to making sure that principals have an academic “snapshot” of every student from the summer to help them have a clear expectation for the fall.

All recruiting is done by our program staff, then all candidates are processed and trained to give our scholars the best quality teachers and leaders. Before each summer program begins, Teaching Fellows, Teaching Coaches, and mentors go through an extensive training process to assure that they are ready to support the scholars both academically and emotionally during the summer. Principals do not have to focus on summer preparation, which allows them to focus completely on making sure the school year ends on a positive note. They don't have to take time out of their busy schedules to put together an highly effective summer program. 

PMP makes sure that principals and teachers are aware of both the successes and shortcomings that students may experience over the summer to better prepare them for the next academic school year. At the end of the program schools receive data packages, scholar portfolios, and mastery trackers to gather insight on each student. These packages give an overview of students’ attendance, assessment scores, emotional and academic strengths and weaknesses, and other valuable information to allow principals and teachers the chance to breeze into the next school year.  

Mentors:

Mentors, students four years older than the scholars, enter our program ready to help lead, empower, and impact the life of their mentee - when they are as young as nine years old. At this extremely tender age, PMP gives mentors an opportunity that most of their peers will never receive. Placing such a serious responsibility on their shoulders motivates our mentors to be the best role models they can be, which is why they succeed with everything they are asked to do.

Although many mentors are too young to completely comprehend the capacity of the responsibilities that they have during our summer program, they are still affected by its power in ways similar to what happens to the scholars. Because mentors are acting as role models to their scholars, they develop different personality traits and skills to keep up with their role, like active listening skills, the power of empathy, patience, and a genuine desire to help their mentee succeed in school.

While experiencing personal growth, mentors also experience academic growth even though the summer program is not directly fitted to their academic needs. After regular school day hours PMP works with the mentors to help them prepare for things that will be happening within the upcoming school years. For example, PMP helps the mentors prepare for the PSATs and SATs or the specialized high school test, depending on their grade. They also receive college or high school readiness so they are prepared for the next step in their academic career.

Mentors are able to use their newfound personal and academic advancements to enhance their relationships with the scholars. As mentors grow into themselves, they are able to help guide scholars toward a path of learning and progress. “I know you can do it, because I did,” is a mentality that our mentors have which resonates greatly with all of our scholars.

Teachers:

All of the teachers (Teaching Fellows, Teaching Coaches, and the teachers who will teach the PMP scholars in the fall) benefit tremendously from our program.

The summer program, from the internship perspective, is one of the most rewarding experiences available to college students across the country.  Our Teaching Fellows are able to lead the classroom as if they were the teachers, allowing them to gain the experience, skills, qualifications, and confidence necessary to be fully prepared for their future positions. They achieve both professional and personal advancements, leaving them fully prepared and ready to tackle their teaching profession after college. In addition to the Teaching Fellows, our Teaching Coach position provides a great opportunity for professional development. During the summer, the Teaching Coaches, who are all certified DOE teachers, guide everyone in the program (Teaching Fellows, mentors, and scholars) toward success by, essentially, taking on the role of a principal.  Teaching Coaches use the summer to take a break from the usual classroom setting, hand the reins over to the Teaching Fellows, and dive into a more administrative role while supervising all aspects of the program.  

Although most of the teachers who will teach the PMP scholars in the fall, after our program ends, are not involved in the summer portion, they still greatly benefit from the services PMP provides. Thanks to pre- and post-testing, come September, teachers can see how students have progressed over the summer in the areas where they have struggled. In addition, the scholar portfolios we provide will equip them with the necessary information to help mold lesson plans to better cater to the needs of their students. The professional development sessions we hold for teachers at the end of the program will give them knowledge of how to apply the wealth of information they will receive to create a more enriching environment for their students.

PMP wants to ensure that teachers feel confident in every avenue of their profession because we believe that when teachers are set up for success it inevitably leads to students succeeding. So, the best quality services for every teacher involved in our program means that mentors and the scholars will be offered the best quality teachers to guide them toward excellence.

Parents:

The puzzle is not complete until everyone is included. At PMP, we feel that one of the most important pieces, if not the most important piece, to a child’s successful education is how engaged their parents and guardians are. All of the effort and hard work that teachers and mentors put is complete when parents continue to encourage their children to reinforce what they learn in school at home. For the five weeks that PMP parents are involved with the program we encourage them to be involved as much as possible. From home visits by the Teaching Fellow before the program even begins, to constant updates about where their child stands academically and how they are behaving, to workshops that help lead families to success. This sense of involvement provides PMP parents with feelings of empowerment and pride toward their child’s education. Giving them the courage to to strive to provide the best possible life for their child. Leading their child to believe that anything is possible.

Scholars:

Last but not least, when the puzzle is completed, the participants who benefit most from PMP’s full-service summer school program are the scholars – especially if they are struggling academically. The scholars leave our program more motivated than ever before. Scholars enter the classroom in September academically, socially, and emotionally ahead of their peers who did not participate in a summer enrichment program.

Through the power of mentors, whose job is to be a positive role-model, teachers who are equipped to handle each student’s individual needs, parents who are involved and engaged in their child’s academic life, and principals who have a free schedule to make sure the fall will be the best it can be, students are able to get the best education experience possible. With a team of people whose main goal is the success of their students, scholars are able to achieve immense gains academically, socially, and emotionally.

Our scholars have seen significant academic advancements, with an average grade-equivalent gain of six months in math and two months in ELA, according to a 3rd party research group. Any information that the students would have lost if they weren’t involved in the PMP program was, instead, retained by being in the PMP program. The scholars leave PMP feeling more prepared, and more confident to achieve greatness in the upcoming school year.

Many of the scholars enter the program in the summer with emotional and behavioral issues that make them reluctant to focus on school. After a couple of days of developing a direct relationship with their mentor, those issues are lessened and they are able to focus on school. They gain self-confidence and learn better self-control through the support they receive in the program and at home. By interacting with their mentor, scholars are able to get an idea of the academic culture they should expect for their next level of education. For example, a fifth grader with a ninth grade mentor who already knows what it is like to transition from elementary school to middle school, will gain insight as to how to prepare for the inevitable transition, making the entire process seamless and easy. When the puzzle is completed and the scholars succeed, we are able to clearly see the impact that PMP’s full-service program has on its student’s path through education. While, simultaneously impacting and developing the lives of those who are involved in the program. In turn, allowing everyone to achieve the greatness that they were capable of all along.

Inside Information on our Amazing Teaching Fellow Position!

Recruiting Coordinator, Hannah Perkins, works hard year-round to make sure that Practice Makes Perfect’s summer program is nothing less than a complete success. Though PMP runs for only 5 weeks, it takes months before the summer to assure that every single Teaching Fellow is fit to perfection; from their ability to teach and lead a classroom to their desire and drive to make an impact for at-risk youth. After months of preparation, Hannah is just a couple of days away from launching the Teaching Fellow applications. I sat down with Hannah to get a better understanding of what exactly it is that she is looking for in the future hires, and what would make them the most successful candidates for the position.

What is the Teaching Fellow position?

  • Practice Makes Perfect pairs academically struggling students with higher achieving mentors from their same neighborhoods and places them under the supervision of college interns and certified teachers for a five week academic intensive summer program. These college interns are what we at PMP call our Teaching Fellows. The Teaching Fellowship is one of the most rewarding and rigorous experiences available to college students across the country. This paid fellowship will prepare individuals for a career in education while also teach skills such as leadership, communication, and perseverance that are transferable to any profession.

How many positions do you have open now?

  • As of right now we have 20 positions available for summer 2016. But, we see this number doubling within the next few months as we continue to partner with schools across New York City.

What are the qualifications for the position?

  • Any current junior or senior undergraduate or graduate student is eligible for the Fellow position, with all majors accepted. They need to have:
    • 3.0 GPA or higher
    • Interest in teaching
    • Some experience working with children, preferably in an academic setting (student teaching experience a plus, but not necessary)  

Why is the position not open to college freshmen and sophomores?

  • When our program was in its beginning stages, it was available to freshmen and sophomores.  But, we soon realized that they were not quite ready for this experience; they were not as successful in the role and their classes didn't have the best outcomes. Because our program is challenging and intensive, we want to make sure that the teachers who are teaching our classes are ready and equipped for such an experience. They need to be able to handle a rigorous environment-- a full job preview of teaching in an inner-city. We concluded that having more experience and being a bit more mature creates better outcomes for all parties. It is better for us in terms of results, but also the Teaching Fellows tended to get more out of the program when they enter with more experience, maturity, and professionalism. The scholars in-turn reap the benefits of having a more able teacher.

What if a student wants to apply for the TF position but does not plan to pursue a degree in education? What if they don’t have any experience in the field?

  • I would definitely encourage everyone to apply - we will definitely be open to non-education degrees or candidates that may not have professional experience with teaching. PMP provides a rigorous 45 hours of training, prior to the start of the program, which will prepare all Fellows to be confident and successful in the classroom. I also believe, more than experience, is important to be passionate about education and working with youth in inner-city communities. We want our Fellows to have the drive to make a difference over the summer.
  • Even if Fellows aren’t selected for a position in summer 2016, having an application on file will definitely be beneficial for a future position with our organization. We will make note of your eagerness, excitement and desire to be a part of what we are doing. If we don’t have a position for you this year, we will offer suggestions on how to gain the experience that will help you be successful in this role, and hope to see you reapply next year.

How does this program prepare the TFs for their future position in education?

  • There really isn’t a training program or an internship program that gives a full job preview of working as a teacher in a high needs community. With one week of rigorous training, and the 5-week program, PMP Teaching Fellows receive a total of 6 week of hands-on teaching experience, all supported and guided by a NYC certified teacher. During the program, Fellows not only prepare and lead lessons, they create and implement a behaviour management system, and become a role model to the scholars and mentors in their classroom. At the end of the program, Fellows leave with a full resource library of materials and tools useful to their future teaching career, and an experience necessary to be a confident leader and grow as a future educator.

How competitive is the program to be apart of?

  • I would say that it is competitive, because there aren’t many programs that offer teaching opportunities like ours for college students, so naturally we do get a lot of interest in this position. The unique nature of the program usually draws a lot of interest to our organization.

When is the best time to apply?

  • Our applications are available November 15th-February 29th, making final decisions on March 15th. Although applications will be accepted through the end of February, I encourage you to apply as soon as possible. We do review applications throughout the open application period.

What do you look for in candidates?

  • Besides the more concrete qualifications, I stress the importance of drive and perseverance of candidates who want to be a part of what we are doing. Working in inner-city neighborhoods is not always easy;  Teaching Fellows will be working daily with students to overcome some tough situations, and thus it is necessary to have a certain passion and drive in order to create positive relationships, and in turn positive results. Also, we want our Fellows to be really excited! We want our teachers to come in and be enthusiastic for the summer and for the program. Some of the scholars that are in the program might not be exactly excited to be in “summer school,” so we want our teachers to help create an excitement for summer learning, and overall change that negative stigma around summer school.

I hope this gave you a better understanding of Practice Makes Perfect’s Teaching Fellow positions, and what is required to be successful in this role. PMP is eager to find young adults who are passionate about teaching and truly want to make a difference in the world. Find out more information about our program and the position here: practicemakesperfect.org/summer