By Stefan Forrestal-Swaintek, AmeriCorps member serving on the MFS Investment Management team with Channing Elementary School
Ms. Joseph always seems to be on the go here at the Channing Elementary School in Hyde Park. Whether she’s getting the classroom ready for the day’s lesson, heading out to a meeting, or teaching students, she’s full of energy. While she has been in this business of educating future generations for 20 years, this first year in an elementary school has been a change of pace.
“It’s challenging because it’s new,” she says with a chuckle, knowing that we both have that same feeling.
At one time, however, the idea that she would have a career in education was itself a new idea. Before she attended the University of Massachusetts in Boston and earned a master’s degree in education, Ms. Joseph was a product of Westfield State University and University of Massachusetts at Amherst with undergraduate and graduate degrees, respectively, in urban planning.
“I’m a big City Year fan. I feel like City Year is a partner in this whole process for me," she continues, "I’ve been blessed to have really intelligent, strong, self-sufficient AmeriCorps members…we make it happen together.”
Just before she began her career as a real estate developer, she volunteered as a tutor at the Freedom House in Dorchester’s after school program. It was there that she first experienced educating students, engaging parents and teachers about how to best help them.
Her thorough work as a tutor did not go unnoticed. The director of the program appointed her coordinator of the after school program.
“What I found was that it brought me joy,” she says of her experience at the Freedom House. After six months serving as coordinator, Ms. Joseph was offered a job in real estate development. She took the job, for good reason, since she had two degrees in that field. However, it only lasted two years because it did not bring her the same happiness as teaching.
From there, she returned to school to pursue a career in education and has never looked back. Since then, she has worked as a teacher in three schools in the city of Boston: the Dearborn STEM Academy, the Curley K-8 School, and now the Channing Elementary, all of which have had City Year Americorps members.
Ms. Joseph’s first experience with a City Year AmeriCorps member was two years ago at the Dearborn. The three AmeriCorps members she has had in her classrooms have left a major impression on her. “I’m a big City Year fan. I feel like City Year is a partner in this whole process for me,” she continues, “I’ve been blessed to have really intelligent, strong, self-sufficient AmeriCorps members… we make it happen together.”
While the transition she has made and is still making is a tough one, she is determined to make this work.
“I realize that if I’m not a part of the solution, than I am most definitely going to have to suffer [the consequences] because these [students] are the people we’re looking for to take over this country… and if they’re unprepared, we’re in trouble.”
With this thought in mind, Ms. Joseph gives all of herself to giving students the education they deserve, making it a pleasure and a privilege to serve by her side.