What is your background and why did you choose to come to YouthBuild Philadelphia?
After finishing undergraduate at Cornell, I worked as a high school English teacher in Newark Public Schools, and decided to move into school leadership. I began pursuing a master’s degree while managing vocational training at an adult education school. YouthBuild appealed to me because it combined two things that I really love — working with underprivileged youth who have great potential, and integrated academics and vocational training. It has given me the opportunity to bring my experience and research in instructional practices and curriculum design into the classrooms and worksites. This is also why I’m pursuing a PHD in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.
What did you envision for this newly created position at YouthBuild?
What attracted me most was the teacher development piece, working with the instructors on best practices. Following a curriculum that is driven by students leaving with the knowledge they should have. I was interested in seeing if our students were leaving vocational training with the knowledge they need to get straight into their field. What is instruction and what are we getting from our instruction? Are we maximizing our time with our students?
What are your plans for the future of the vocational training program at YouthBuild?
My focus is shifting toward programming: How do we respond to industry shifts? How do we map curriculum so it fits with other post-secondary training institutes, so students can pick-up right after they graduate? Are we being realistic about what our students can do after they leave YouthBuild? I spend a lot of my time talking with the instructors about best practices, but I also think about how to grow the programs with unrealized potential, and how to start new programs.
What is your favorite aspect of working at YouthBuild Philadelphia?
What I love about YouthBuild is the students. Everyday it’s a surprise and you learn something you don’t know. I could do the research work in a thinktank, but seeing the ideas and research implemented is very rewarding. It’s incredible gratifying when you see who your work in impacting. When you know that a young person is the first in their family to go to college, you know you’re making a difference by helping them get there.