Elisa Steele '17

I am working with 10th graders taking U.S. History I at Trenton Public High School this semester. We are part of Trenton High's Visual and Performing Arts campus, and most of my students will have engaged with art, dance, orchestra, band, or drama by the time they graduate. Sometimes my students ask me when I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, and I think my answer often surprises them. I haven't known for very long, and I am still working to understand whether teaching, administration, counseling, research, or policy will allow me contribute most meaningfully to the field of education. I graduated from Princeton in the spring of 2017 with a degree in the Woodrow Wilson School. I completed the Teacher Prep coursework alongside education policy related courses. I pursued a Fulbright English teaching grant in Latvia last year and decided to commit to my 9th semester with the Teacher Prep Program when I realized just how much I could learn about the U.S. education system by training to be a teacher back in the states.

I am the first to admit that I am probably learning more this semester from my students, from my supervising teachers, and from my TPP mentors than I am teaching my students. These young scholars are vibrant, witty, sometimes sassy, and a joy to work with. The students are the best part of my semester so far; the stress of planning, re-planning, adapting, and being ready to work so early in the morning has been the greatest challenge so far.

I had enough of a background in education policy and in the classroom to know that teaching was a difficult job. This semester has highlighted just how challenging that job can be, and just how much our nation's teachers need to be supported and celebrated. I am thankful for all of the guidance and mentorship the Teacher Prep Program has offered me and my cohort of student-teachers throughout this eye-opening experience.

I am also incredibly grateful to have been granted the Henry Drewy Award for my student-teaching semester. I would not have been able to meet my incredible students and grow as an educator, thinker, and professional without the support of this award.