AmeriCorps programs often act as a pivotal point in an alumni’s career path. Caitlyn is one of these alumni. She used Early Learning Corps as a step towards teaching!
After earning an undergraduate degree in psychology, Caitlyn wanted to take a break from school and looked to AmeriCorps. After serving one term in a program based in Baltimore, Maryland, she wanted to return to her home in Miami, Florida and needed a position to help her with her relocation. A family member of hers knew of her love for kids and recommended her a position with Early Learning Corps. Already having experience with AmeriCorps and passion for serving her community, Caitlyn readily accepted the position and served in the 2019-2020 term.
The teacher in her tutoring classroom strongly encouraged Caitlyn to continue her career in education after she finished her service. Looking for a more permanent position, Caitlyn decided to pursue service with yet another AmeriCorps program – Teach for America – to earn certification to become a classroom teacher.
Today, Caitlyn teaches kindergarten in Atlanta, Georgia! In her classroom, she still uses her AmeriCorps experiences in each of her AmeriCorps programs, and her tutoring continues to guide her teaching practices.
In her first service term, Caitlyn worked with incarcerated individuals, and she sees connections between this term to her term with Florida Early Learning Corps. “Of course, education is a big part of it,” she says, “but it also has a lot to do with the location, the community, and the surrounding circumstances. All of these variables affect them, and that also impacts their ability to even absorb what’s going on at school.”
Luckily, emotional connections with her students and their households come easily for Caitlyn. “I always have good relationships with my kids individually and with their parents,” she says. “I think I’m naturally a nurturing, loving person which is why I work well with kids.”
Caitlyn currently teaches at the same school where she was placed during her Teach for America service. She often references Early Learning Corps, her first step towards teaching. “I think about that year a lot, and I think about those kids a lot,” she says. “I do implement things that I learned while being a tutor, certain strategies that I learned, especially because it was literacy tutoring. A lot of the phonological awareness, rhyming words and syllables, some of the songs I learned in training I use in my classroom.”
Among the hardships of starting to teach during the COVID-19 pandemic and being cognizant of students’ lives outside the classroom, the relationships with her students are the highlight of her day.
“Their love, it’s the most pure and genuine love you will ever receive,” she says. “Knowing by the end of the year they’ll be on their way to being ready to read in first grade, knowing you played a role in their development, that’s exciting. It’s so crucial these primary years, laying that foundation of what they’ll be building upon for the rest of their education.”
If you are like Caitlyn and want to help students of all backgrounds improve their literacy and math skills and ignite their love of learning, visit join.readingandmath.org to learn more and apply by December 14!