By Brielle Russ, John F. Kennedy High School ‘24 

Brielle with her students

I’m a current senior in the Education program at John F. Kennedy High School, and I plan to go to college for education as well. When I graduate, I’ll return to teach in New Orleans Public Schools. I plan to start off with kindergarten, and then move my way up to middle school and high school.

In the teaching program at JFK, we learn a lot. We take a class, Education 1, and they give us the breakdown on what we need to know. We go over different scenarios that might happen in the classroom. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we actually go into the classroom and are assistant teachers, or teach in small groups, or we might do the whole group depending on what level you are on. I teach kindergarten English at Hynes UNO Charter School. I help them write letters and do their ABC’s. We might read a story, and I help them sound out the words.

Brielle with her students

I’ve learned a lot as a person and student teacher. I’ve learned time management, and how to adapt to different environments. I’ve also learned how to create new and different teaching strategies to help kids.

I had one student who really needed those new strategies. We were working on math, and she had some struggles. For example; she could count, and she could say “1,2,3,4 – but when she looked at the number, she couldn’t tell you what that number was. So I was trying different strategies, having her write it out, making songs about it, and trying to have her get the number down, so when she sees that number, she’ll know what it is. But the next day, she was still struggling. We practiced more together and tried new strategies. I told her to go home and work on it by singing songs at home with her mom. When I came back the next Thursday, and gave her the same worksheet, she had it! It was obvious that she practiced and was determined to gain that skill. I was proud to see her progress in the class. Helping kids really pays off. 

My friend Amai’ya teaches kindergarten as well. When she teaches, she explains to the kids and breaks it down. I went to her class one time, and she was really on the ground with the kids, with the blocks, breaking stuff down for them. I was like, “wow.”

I think it’s helpful that Amai’ya, and I, and our classmates are from New Orleans and teaching students from New Orleans. If I was from a different state, and I was teaching kids in New Orleans, it would be a very difficult task, due to the cultural differences. I wouldn’t know what they’re going through. I wouldn’t know much about them, and the whole thing would be a learning experience just to be able to get a basic connection.

Amai’ya student teaching

I believe that the education program helps us bond, build connections, and network with other people. I am certain that all of the John F. Kennedy High School  Education Program student teachers made a positive impact on the students and staff at Hynes UNO Charter School, and we will be remembered. 

To me, teachers are like a second parent. They should care. They should teach you things that you may need for school, your job, and for life. They’re going to teach you to be a better person. 

A good teacher is caring. A good teacher is one that can hold you accountable and is not afraid to stop the class and break things down to actually explain things, instead of just talking to you.

Mr. Flores is my Education l and AP Literature teacher. He holds me accountable. He figures out all of his students strengths and weaknesses, and he finds different techniques to teach us the material. The strength he saw in me was that I was a good leader.

Brielle and Mr. Flores

By being in the teaching program, I know I can have an impact on my students just like Mr. Flores has an impact on me. It makes me happy to know that I’m helping somebody to get where I’m at in the future, and get them on the right track by teaching and building a connection with them. If I become a teacher, I might be teaching them again in the future. So, I feel like that connection really helps me, and making their day, makes my day.

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