Abra Berkowitz -- Citizen Schools

Abra Berkowitz
​Organization: Citizen Schools

Teaching with Citizen Schools has really taught me the incredible potential of young people. Our students succeed in applying their knowledge of math, science, government and language arts to difficult, real-world problems after a long school day. They succeed in including their peers in groups, sharing and delegating responsibilities, and managing a timeline to accomplish their tasks before our big end-of-semester presentation. This is something I am pretty sure that most adults have not totally figured out! I have such a feeling of accomplishment and pride at the end of each apprenticeship because Citizen Teaching makes a very positive difference in the lives of young people.

Students, who at the beginning were not engaged or were disruptive to the class, did a 180° by the end of the semester. I learned about the importance of good teaching and advising during the crucial middle school years. I have also learned that middle school students are truly very smart and capable; it only takes the right forum for them to apply and build their abilities. I’ve experienced a student who enjoyed crunching numbers learning that she could make a great treasurer one day, while another student who excelled at writing applied her passion to drafting speeches and press releases in our mock election.

Some of the students with which I have worked had no idea of the relevance of their classroom learning. They also did not yet realized that their own interests and strengths could lead them to leadership positions in middle or high school and eventually to a future career. One student’s positive experience is more than enough of a justification to volunteer your time!

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit www.citizenschools.org.