Here's what 4 Philly educators say they were like as kids - Generocity Philly

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Sep. 8, 2017 12:55 pm

Here’s what 4 Philly educators say they were like as kids

Reminiscing with the School District of Philadelphia's Ami Patel Hopkins, Child's World America's Bill Clark, PHLpreK's Julie Beamon and Teacher Action Group's Sam Reed.

Mayor Jim Kenney visiting Southwark School in December 2016.

(Photo by Samantha Madera for the City of Philadelphia)

I was a shy kid.

I wouldn’t raise my hand, though I did like school — especially writing and English. Then in high school, I joined the theatre group, met a bunch of quirky, effervescent people who remain my good friends today, and had my first clips published in school and regional newspapers. Now I talk to strangers and write about our conversations for a living.

Therefore, I identify with Ami Patel Hopkins’ own school experience, during which a high school teacher helped her overcome her shyness by making her speak in front of the whole school. (Harsh, teach!)

Inspired by this story on Technical.ly Philly and in honor of September’s editorial theme of education, I reached out to a handful of educators and education-adjacent professionals in Philadelphia to ask two simple questions: What were you like as a school-age kid, and what advice would you give yourself at the start of your career in the education world?

Here’s what they had to say.

Ami Patel Hopkins, kindergarten transition fellow at the School District of Philadelphia

What were you like as a school-age kid?

  • I cannot answer this question without giving a shout out to all of my teachers. I remember every single one and what influence they had on me. I loved school and being involved with extracurricular activities! Science and math were my favorite subjects! I was also a very shy student. I will never forget the teacher in high school who had me face my fear of public speaking and “voluntold” me to serve as an emcee for an assembly. After that point, I broke out of my shell and would now describe myself as an extrovert!

Looking back now, what piece of advice would you give yourself at the start of your career in the education world? 

  • I would refer back to a guest article I wrote for Generocity for this one as I believe it applies no matter what role you play in education: “The incorporation of the voice of the people I am serving is important to me in my work and in my decision making, and it is something I look for in a leader that I trust. A leader I trust and strive to be like listens to different perspectives, follows through and builds trusted relationships in order to ‘GSD’ (get ‘stuff’ done).”

Bill Clark, founder of Child’s World America

What were you like as a school-age kid?

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  • I was a nature nerd! I never met a reptile, amphibian or mollusk that didn’t fascinate me. Mom used to say she couldn’t remember a time when my feet were dry. I was always knee-deep in a pond, creek or tidal pool.

Looking back now, what piece of advice would you give yourself at the start of your career in the education world?

  • The most effective element in all learning is fun. Having fun learning something is the equivalent to following your bliss.

Sam Reed, III, teacher, consultant and activist

What were you like as a school-age kid?

  • I attended Philadelphia public schools. I was a contemplative youth but generally, not engaged in school. I was pretty clueless on what I wanted to do with my life. But I was sure, I wanted to be in control of my destiny. I was newspaper boy, and that’s where I learned the value of work and entrepreneurship.

Looking back now, what piece of advice would you give yourself at the start of your career in the education world? 

  • The advice I would give to my new teacher self is make sure you find time to do yoga, dancing and self care. I would also tell my early teacher self to make sure I find teacher networks like the Philadelphia Writing Project or Teacher Action Group. The power of teacher networks sustained me during both the bad and good times in the classroom.

Julie Beamon, PHLpreK director in the Mayor’s Office of Education

What were you like as a school-age kid? 

  • I was a kid that loved school, especially English and history classes! I did not have that same love for math, however — the struggle was real. It’s no surprise that I ended up in education.

Looking back now, what piece of advice would you give yourself at the start of your career in the education world?

  • Don’t feel boxed in by your teaching degree. Teaching provides you with a skill set that is easily transferable to other career paths — project management, public speaking, diplomacy and data analysis are skills that are all developed and practiced by teachers every day in the classroom.
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Julie Zeglen

Julie Zeglen is the editor of Generocity. Previous to joining the Technically Media team, she served as managing editor of Star Community Newsweekly, a hyperlocal newspaper focused on Philadelphia’s River Wards. The Temple alumna lives in West Philly.

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