A Postcard From: Elizabeth Hilton ’19

Name: Elizabeth Hilton
Class Year: 2019
Major: Psychology
Hometown: South Orange

Internship Placement: Breakthrough
Job Title: Teaching Fellow
Location: New York City

I have wanted to be a teacher for a long time, and this summer I am getting the chance to begin. I am teaching seventh-grade science in NYC for a program called Breakthrough, that aims to close the achievement gap by providing curriculum enhancement for underserved populations in middle school, as well as help with the high school and college application and transition process. The program runs all the way from the summer after sixth grade, to when you graduate college. This summer, I am a teaching fellow, which has been the most exciting, exhausting, amazing, meaningful, and joyful experience of my life. This means that for the middle school program, I am one of the eight seventh-grade teachers teaching two classes of about 15 students each. Another fellow and I teach science, and we have a blast.

I applied for this internship because I have always wanted to be a teacher and it is important to me that I am part of a solution in fixing some of the many problems that plague our education system. Breakthrough, while it is limited, prepares students to be successful academically. They are 110 percent committed to their students, and it has been an honor to be a part of. By far the best part of this summer has been the students. They are so fun, and it has been such a joy to harness the students’ natural curiosity, and focus on what they are interested in, and bring that out in the classroom. Because of the nature of this program, I also get to do things like eat with them at lunch and hang out during down time with them. This makes the relationship between teacher and student so strong and special. I also have four students who are my advisees, so I get the opportunity to talk about different aspects of life like stress management, school/life balance, and identity.

I am learning so many skills from this internship. The biggest skill I have learned is how to ask questions to students that allow them to connect their own experiences and knowledge to the academic information they are learning. It is no fun to just be told information and write it down. I have worked really hard this summer to find ways for students to meaningfully engage with their learning. Another skill I have improved upon is teamwork. I work with a co-teacher, which has taught me a lot about communication and how to work together. It is sort of like the longest group project ever. We do not always agree, but we always figure it out. The students are the priority and we come together to put them first.

Overall, it is absolutely amazing. I am so happy that I get to wake up every day and go back.