When graduate student Jessica Sirota began her five-week internship at P.S. 8 this summer, she was nervous and did not know what to expect.
She had a very different outlook by the end of her journey.
“I could totally see myself back at Children’s Aid in the future,” she said. “I never thought that would come out of my summer experience. It’s a testament to your program.”
Jessica is currently working toward a graduate degree in early childhood education at Hunter College. Her program required that she complete an internship, and she found one working in the 4-year-old classroom at our community school in Washington Heights.
Starting on July 5, Jessica made the hour commute on three trains. Once she walked through the doors, Jessica found a warm and welcoming community.
“Every single person – from the custodian to the teacher I worked with and all the teachers in between – were so warm, so nice, and made me feel really included and a part of the team,” she said.
Jessica was impressed with the level of family engagement at P.S. 8. Every Friday morning, the teachers hosted a variety of programming for Family Day.
“There was an arts and crafts project, such as building a bird house or tie-dying shirts, that gathered everyone together,” she said. “It was so nice to see the entire community showing up and actively participating. You could clearly see everyone was having fun and truly enjoying being there to support their children.”
Ana Cruz, the head teacher, has 19 years of classroom experience. She taught Jessica about classroom management, how to effectively teach a curriculum, and how to provide extra instruction to students who may need more care.
“Jessica was a pleasure to work with and I was honored to be her mentor,” Ana said. “She was always happy, interactive with children, and eager to learn new things. Jessica is a beautiful person and I wish her well in her teaching career.”
Jessica was amazed at the relationships Ana built with her students and the level of care and attention she provided to each child.
“Ana’s an amazing teacher. Something that was really special about her is that students who are struggling or students who need more support, she has a way with those students that no other teacher I’ve ever seen has,” she said. “They really love and respect her and she really finds what’s special about them and builds that relationship with those students. I learned from Ana how important that is.”
Jessica will graduate in December and hopes to become a head teacher. Though she has previous classroom experience, her time at P.S. 8 has taught her the importance of fostering a strong community and involving the whole family in a child’s education.
She hopes to carry this experience and the advice she received from the teachers, education directors, and leadership at P.S. 8 into her next role.
“I could not be more grateful for the opportunity I had, and I feel lucky to have been placed at this school,” she said.