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Alumni combine service, teaching

It’s not unusual for our alumni to develop a lifelong commitment to service, helped in part by the service learning requirement for all Providence students. Most do so in their free time. Some make it their career. Three young alumni are starting their careers by teaching in special programs that help others.

Julie Payne ’14 will be teaching in a low-income neighborhood in the Washington, D.C., area in the Urban Teachers program while pursuing her master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University Graduate School of Education, and Sara Gryboski ’15 will be teaching middle school STEM in Dayton, Ohio, as part of the Teach for America program. Ashlyn Edwards ’15 will be taking her teaching skills abroad, spending a year teaching under contract with the French government working in schools throughout France.

Edwards graduated in May from Butler University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and French. She applied to the TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France), which is run by Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques. She had heard of the teaching fellowship and followed through after Butler’s director of prestigious scholarships recommended the program to her – and assisted with some of the application.

She had previously spent a semester abroad in 2016 and enjoyed the experience. She also has been a volunteer CASA advocate in Indianapolis for two years, which gave her experience working with children and advocating on their behalf in the court system. The teaching fellowship will give her work experience as well as an opportunity to travel in France and throughout Europe. As she looks forward to heading to France in mid-September, she’s keeping her options open.

“I’m not really sure what to expect yet, so I’m just going to be in the moment and enjoy it as it comes,” Edwards said. “I plan to travel and meet up with friends in different countries during academic breaks and might stay for the summer after and do some traveling as well, but I don’t have any concrete plans yet.”

Gryboski earned her bachelor’s degree in linguistics with a minor in engineering sciences from The Ohio State University. For her, teaching middle school children through TFA is an opportunity to make a positive impact in children’s lives.

“I was really inspired by their mission, which is to work toward excellence and equity for all,” Gryboski said. “I’ve been blessed with a wonderful education, but a lot of children don’t have that opportunity. At TFA, we believe that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not, and I’m so excited to help make an impact and change the education system from within. I’m most looking forward to teaching my passions and helping students achieve their potential.”

She will teach for two years for TFA but doesn’t yet have a goal of teaching for a career, “but I hope I’ll continue to make a change.”

Payne graduated with a bachelor’s in secondary English education from Purdue University in May and was interested in the four-year Urban Teachers program after completing a teaching fellowship with Breakthrough Collaborative San Francisco at SF Day School last summer. That program “allows undergraduates to help prepare middle school students from under-resourced communities for college,” she said. During her last week, she attended a career fair featuring different teaching organizations and graduate school programs, where she learned about the Urban Teachers program.

After returning to Purdue for her final year, she did more research on the program and did a job shadow day in Washington, D.C., last October. She liked the program, applied, and was accepted, and then applied to Johns Hopkins and will earn her master’s in educational studies with concentrations in secondary literacy and special education over the next two years and continue teaching as part of the program for the following two years. Her first year she will receive a living stipend from Urban Teachers, and the following three years she will be paid a full-time teaching salary from the school where she works.

She will be teaching at IDEA Public Charter School in Northeast D.C., likely ninth or 10th grade, and is looking forward to helping youth.

“I became interested in this program because its values and core beliefs focus on creating excellent teachers for the urban education setting,” Payne said. “Working with students in the urban setting, especially students of color and low-income students, became a passion of mine during my time at Purdue and during my time at Breakthrough, so I’m excited that I’ve been given the opportunity to continue working in this setting.”

Even though she grew up in the medium-sized city of New Albany, she is excited for the opportunity to teach in a major metropolitan area, especially after working in San Francisco for a summer.

“Teaching in a major metropolitan area appeals to me because I will be given the chance to work with students from under-resourced communities,” Payne said. “I want to help all types of students understand that they are worthy of a high-quality education, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status, and that they are capable of achieving whatever goals and aspirations they set for themselves.”

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