Recent graduate Nelly Alba '16 is continuing her passion for education by joining Teach for America. Alba was offered a position as a special education teacher in English Language Learner classrooms in Lawrence, Mass. Some of her responsibilities will include evaluating how Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, are implemented in classrooms.
Alba was first drawn to Teach for America by its mission statement. Teach for America is a proponent of “transforming by doing what I think is really important” explains Alba, and gives her the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in an established school system. While she is working full time as a teacher in the Lawrence public schools, she will also have the opportunity to earn her master’s degree in education at Boston University for a discounted rate and with a modified schedule that accommodates professional students from Teach for America.
For Alba, her interest in education is personal, as she has been assigned to the same school district where she was once a student. She looks forward to working with ninth and tenth grade students, commenting, “That’s the time in which students are eager to learn and question the outside world. Having guidance there is really important.”
Before applying to Teach for America, Alba explored the field as an intern for two summers with Breakthrough Collaborative, where she received mentorship and the opportunity to be in charge of her own classroom in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. During those summers she taught math and high school level courses.
Alba’s longtime passion for education was ignited during the fall semester of her junior year when she participated in the Hamilton-sponsored semester-long program at the New England Center for Children. During her time there, she had the opportunity to work hands-on with four autistic boys. “I think it is the most important experience of my life. It showed me the importance of individual attention and relating to students,” Alba recalled.
Reflecting on her time at Hamilton, Alba noted the importance of her psychology courses in informing her views on education. After examining the inner workings of the human brain, she has come to realize that her degree will provide information that is “essential to know when working with any student.”
As a psychology and Spanish double major, Alba kept busy her senior year completing theses on the efficacy of youth mentorship and comparative forms of Spanish poetry. In addition, she served as the on-campus recruiter after she was accepted to Teach for America, worked as a teaching assistant for 100-level Spanish courses, served as a resident advisor and tutored a student from Utica.
The soon-to-be-teacher is thankful for the many opportunities she had access to while she was a student. Alba says she is “excited to embark on the next step and see where it takes me.” After working with Teach for America, Alba is considering a career in education administration and sees the experience of working in a classroom as an important and informative step in that plan.