Education and Beyond

CTY Summer of 2019

I was away from blogging on both of my blogs for about a month because I was lucky enough to work for Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) as a Program Assistant (PA).

It is my first time with CTY and anything as prestigious as Johns Hopkins University is the main reason why it is so unbelievable. It is only three weeks long (for the Day Site). It was an intense and demanding experience that left me exhausted (in a good way) after each day.

The whole program was very well-organized for Orientation and Training. The administrative team provided a very clear picture of my role as a PA and that was what I did. Lunch was provided every day that we were there, so it was a huge relief to not worry about preparing lunch and waiting in line for the microwave. Looking back, it’s important that students see staff eating the same things they were.

I was able to work with exceptional people, namely the Dean of Students and my fellow PA’s, as they guided and supported me in a super fast-paced environment, and working together to supervise students, as well as plan and execute activities. We were always a unified front and always on the same page, so students could not take advantage of us or the situation.

“It empowered me to be the boss.”

This position gave me the chance to have real opportunities as a leader to manage students, deal with students in ways that mattered (such as behavior management), and to plan, prepare, and execute activities. These are responsibilities that I craved for, but were not allowed to apply in all of the lesser positions that I held. This experience gave me this feeling that this is what being a good teacher (or leader) looks like and feels like. It empowered me to be the boss.

I was also able to work with exceptional students, all 11 of them. Since the camp ended, I miss my students every day. All of my students are special but I would like to give some space in this post to two students.

Unbeknownst that he would be one of my students, I gave my first campus tour to him and his parents on Registration Day. He was an amazing student, followed class rules and lab safety, worked well with partners as instructed, did his homework/had well-done info-graphics, the list goes on. A common theme in his shirts are NASA shirts. Toward the end of the camp, I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up and one of his answers was an Astrophysicist. So if you hear of a genius who makes discoveries in Astrophysics, and the person’s name is Gordon, it is likely him.

“You have Gordon? I love Gordon.”

– PA who shall not be named

I quickly discovered that Gordon was an exceptional person as well. One time, we were eating lunch and we both saw a piece of trash sliding on the concrete, he got up and picked it up and threw it in the trash before I did. Another instance was when I had him for an activity. He was one of the students who helped me and the other PA clean up and put the heavy mats back. Another example was on PA Appreciation Day (see image toward end of post), I was showing off gifts from my students to one PA and when she read his note, saw his name, and said, “You have Gordon? I love Gordon.” When you have the admiration with a hint of jealousy from another PA, you know you have an stellar student. Of course, there are other examples.

The other student I want to share a bit about is Rudy and he was a trendsetter. The most memorable example is on the last Monday of the camp when he built a fishing rod out of Balsa wood, twine, tape, and a washer (flat, metal, doughnut-shaped thing), all of which are materials found in the classroom. *More to the story at the end* The next day, three students copied him, making their own versions of a fishing rod with similar materials. One of them (I later discovered was a perfectionist) who went as far as to make a “fully functional motorized fishing rod,” again, with class materials.

“I did not even ask him to do it but he recognized the opportunity to help and he did.”

Rudy also happened to be an outstanding person as well. I was trying to build rapport with each student and he was one of the last ones because I felt awkward. Once we built a good rapport, I was able to see what a surprise he was. One example was during recess when I saw a student hitting the ball harder than the norm and wanted to know who his PA was so they can talk to the kid, so I asked Rudy if he knew the kid’s name (since they played the same game), and he said no. He got up and returned with a name. I did not even ask him to do it but he recognized an opportunity to help and he did. Another instance was toward the end of the camp when the teacher taught a bit about Trigonometry. Generally, the class struggled (they are students going to 6th and 7th grade) but Rudy knew Trig, so he was helping the class without hesitation. I was in a meeting when this happened and boy was I elated to hear this from the teacher. Of course there are other examples.

Three Pictures

My "Staff" Shirt. It proves that the wearer is a staff member. I wish I could wear it every day.
My “Staff” Shirt. It proves that the wearer is a staff member. I wish I could wear it every day.
I decorated my door with rectangular pieces of paper in orange, green, and pink with letters that spell "Physics of Engineering" in white glitter. Below that is a bridge made up of 5 pieces of dark purple rectangles that have "SCEN-A!!! :)" on it.
This is how I decorated my class’s door. The course is called “Physics of Engineering” section A of SCEN (Science and Engineering).

I was told that my door received a lot of compliments. It was very easy for my students to find their class. The purple bridge is representative of CTY:

  • During Orientation and Training, the instructor I worked with said that some of the projects that the students would be doing included building Balsa Wood Bridges
  • About 30% of CTY students are international and out-of-state-students, so not knowing what my class demographic would be, I hoped that my class will build bridges (connections) with others from different places
  • Students come to class not knowing everything, so the bridge represents them gaining knowledge as the camp progresses
Gifts (Thank You Notes) from my students for PA Appreciation Day.
Gifts (Thank You Notes) from my students for PA Appreciation Day.
  • An airplane
  • 2 cranes
  • A boat
  • 2 puppets
  • The rest are cards

Thanks for reading.

*I challenged Rudy to catch three (Gold)fish, so he snuck tape to recess and lunch and attempted to catch them. He tried various ways of attaching the tape to the washer but the Goldfish would not bite. Finally frustrated, he tore a piece of tape from the roll and stuck directly on the Goldfish and he still could not catch one. I laughed so hard. A few classmates tried to help him and none of their strategies worked. They ended up putting Goldfish in a cup of water and they floated at the top, and we discovered that they did not take the bait because they were dead. Huge laughter from all of us.*

2 thoughts on “CTY Summer of 2019

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