Teaching ‘for the Long Haul’
With a semester still remaining before he graduates, sociology major and education studies minor Edgar Otero ’20 has already lined up a job that will further his long-term career goal — he will be joining Urban Teachers in Washington, D.C. As part this program, Otero will complete a residency to become certified to teach full-time and obtain a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Education.
We asked Otero to tell us a little more about Urban Teachers and his plans:
What intrigued you the most about this program?
I was really drawn to the residency model of Urban Teachers, which differed from that of more typical teacher fellowships. I wanted a program that would adequately prepare me for a successful career as an educator working in underserved schools and communities. The idea of spending my entire first year of the program under the mentorship of an established teacher, receiving all the guidance, support, and resources needed to lay the foundation for my own teaching practice before having a classroom of my own, is what sold me on Urban Teachers. I knew that I would be fully supported by this program and have ample time to hone my craft based on what I learn in my graduate school coursework and what I see modeled for me in the classroom by my co-teacher.
How did your interest in teaching secondary English begin?
My interest was sparked during my junior year of high school through an internship with Breakthrough Miami, an eight-year academic enrichment program for high-achieving middle and high school students attending under-resourced schools. I began volunteering as a tutor for those students on Saturdays throughout the school year, and from there I went on to become a summer institute teaching fellow, during which I taught fifth-grade English. After that, I realized I had a passion for teaching and wanted to continue learning about and working in education.
Are there any classes, clubs, or experiences at Hamilton that influenced your career path?
The education studies classes I’ve taken at Hamilton have been extremely influential in shaping my thoughts, ideas, and knowledge on all things related to education. In them, I have learned about everything from the inequities affecting our country’s education system today to pedagogical theory from multiple perspectives and backgrounds.
Major: Sociology, Minor: Education Studies
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
High School: Young Men’s Prep Academy
On Campus: BLSU Philanthropy chair, Multicultural Peer Mentor, COOP Service Intern
There have even been times where I was able to take the skills I acquired in class and practice them in real classroom settings off-campus with students ranging in grade level from elementary to high school. As an education studies minor, I can honestly say that I have had some of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my Hamilton career through this department, and I am much more confident in my next steps as a future educator because of them.
What are you excited to learn about or experience as a part of the program?
I am excited to start teaching full-time after my residency year and having my very own classroom where I am free to experiment with different teaching methods and formulate a pedagogy that is unique to me. Getting to work closely with students of my own every day will be such a fulfilling experience. I will have the chance to capitalize on the knowledge I will have acquired and put to practice everything I’ve prepared for, which is a goal that I’ve been working toward since my first education class at Hamilton. It all comes full circle.
Where do you see yourself after completing the program?
After Urban Teachers, I envision myself continuing to teach, probably sticking with secondary English, too. I know that career-wise I expect to be working in the education and non-profit sector in some capacity wherever I go, even if I’m not a teacher in the traditional sense at some point down the road. However, at least initially, I’ll most likely stay in the teaching world. I’m in it for the long haul!