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My experience working in non-profit organizations, federal volunteerism and higher education demonstrates a desire to promote collaboration by improving working relationships and to expand community engagement. As a Field Organizer for the 2012 Presidential campaign, I managed over one hundred volunteers in multiple offices throughout two counties. I fostered an environment of teamwork, accountability, autonomy and community outreach. I also demonstrated a servant-leader style which encouraged volunteer initiative, commitment, and ethical behavior.
During my two years with AmeriCorps I recruited college students and professional staff and helped develop their leadership and organization skills while maintaining an environment of teamwork among individuals from many diverse backgrounds. I believe a teacher must act as a role model and mentor to develop and foster a student’s natural curiosity and encourage a critical exploration of the world around them. A teacher must provide access to information rather than simply acting as the student’s primary source of information. When student search for knowledge, they learn to find answers to questions themselves. For students to construct knowledge, they need the opportunity for personal discovery and opportunities to practice skills in authentic situations.
Equally important to self-discovery is having the opportunity to study ideas and concepts that are meaningful and relevant to one's life and interests. Developing a curriculum that focuses on student interests fosters intrinsic motivation and stimulates the passion to learn. One method of student engagement is to invite students to dialogue about course materials. Part of a teacher’s responsibility is to focus on empowering students by teaching them how to learn, in addition to what to learn. Students can be taught to generate ideas and to understand how to develop goals and create learning outcomes; such an approach makes for much richer activities than only by employing a teacher-determined approach. When students have ownership in the curriculum, they are motivated to work hard and master the skills necessary to achieve their educational goals. When individuals take responsibility for constructing knowledge, they are able to take away meaningful skills for lifelong learning.
My background as a Resident Assistant in the Purdue system provided me the opportunity to create a strong academic environment in a brand new living and learning community. This residence life staff experience, two years of federal volunteerism and recent field organizing experience has strengthened my recruitment, training, and retention skills. I believe strongly that such tools and resources are necessary to not only deepen individual growth but to strengthen community engagement.
I believe in empowering communities through education. I will work to create an equitable and empowering environment where each student can mature and grow. I will construct an intentional learning community so that students become responsible members through the application high academic standards, positive discipline, democratic principles, critical thinking and critical reflection. With measurable academic goals and an emphasis on both academic quality and integrity, I will continually challenge students to assume responsibility for their own learning.