Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Biology & Middle Eastern Studies
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: High school Biology (9th-12th Grade)
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Noyce Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
New York University Steinhardt School of Education
Current academic or teaching status:
School and school district:
Essex Street Academy/ District 2 (New York City public high school)
I was born and raised in Astoria, Queens. I attended public school my entire life, K-12. I was fortunate to attend Brooklyn Technical HS, a specialized high school where entrance is attained through competitive testing during the 8th grade. The school offered me vast opportunities for my future and is the reason why I developed such an appreciation of education. I completed my undergraduate degree at NYU with a double major in Biology and Middle Eastern Studies. During my undergraduate tenure, I worked extensively with America Reads, tutoring companies, and most of all Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions where I taught prep classes for high school and middle school students. It was through my work experience that I gained a fervor for teaching and education.
Why do you want to teach:
I am very aware of my fortunate opportunity to attend a prestigious high performance high school. Moreover, this made me aware the severe gap in performance of schools across the spectrum of secondary schools in New York City. We hear much about the gap in education due to socioeconomic status. It is the most challenging predicament that cripples our nation’s youth.
We must strive to change the dismal reality that too many of our students see for themselves in the future. Education is the route for them to escape their circumstances and take a hold of their lives. It is no easy task to work with struggling students but, through perseverance and patience, we can show them the true potential that they have and enable them to take steps toward academic success. My goal is to make college not an option but a necessary commitment for all students.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
There a plethora of students that I have worked with through my life that have led me to make my commitment to become a teacher. However, one always sticks out. My first experience with teaching was with New York Junior Tennis League. It was a nonprofit that ran tennis programs for middle school students throughout NYC. I use to be a part of the program when I was in middle school. After graduating from high school I got my first job there as a tutor for the SHSAT prep program they were offering free of charge to the students. The SHSAT is an admissions test to the specialized high schools of NYC, (coveted high performing schools) and the test is quite rigorous in testing content and strategic problem solving. I did well on the exam when I was in middle school and went to one of the schools. A high percentage of those who gain admission take prep courses at high prices. We were trying to offer the same help for free to students who would not be able to afford such courses.
My first day I got a belligerent, menacing look from a student named Fernando. The entire week he would sit there being disruptive and at some point the notion of expelling him from the program was brought up. I worked with him individually and played tennis with him in the after class session. After one day, he was open to learning, worked diligently, and though he would not take the test until a year later, he gained confidence in his own ability to learn. Showing him the relevance of academia and earning his trust was what showed me the true power of educators. Fernando lived in a housing project and would have been around terrible situations had he not been in that program daily. I walked him home once and remember how much his demeanor changed from the school to his home in a matter of four blocks. It was my first teaching experience, and I know that summer made a positive effect on his life as he completely turned around as a student that following fall.
Educators can impact the lives of students on multiple levels and the best ones strive to do so for all their students, in and out of the classroom.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
In the simplest response, I can say that the NOYCE program has offered me a very advantageous and generous way to give back to the educational system that helped me develop into the person I am.