Student Teacher Spotlight: Stephanie Kimber

03/11/2013
For as long as I could remember, I knew I wanted to make a difference. Once I learned that there was this big world outside of Akron, Ohio, I was determined to not only to see it, but to make a positive impact.

From Peace Corps to Teaching:  My Multicultural Experience

Stephanie Kimber

I am only one but I am one. I cannot do everything but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.  ~ Edward E. Hale

For as long as I could remember, I knew I wanted to make a difference. Once I learned that there was this big world outside of Akron, Ohio, I was determined to not only to see it, but to make a positive impact. After graduating with a degree in Engineering Education from Ohio University in 2008, I had the opportunity to join the Peace Corps program and serve as a Secondary Mathematics Educator in the East African country of Tanzania.

During my time in the Peace Corps, I discovered so much about myself and had a glimpse of the world around me. I learned that even though I was only one person, I could and was able to positively influence others. As I taught the students in my school about various mathematical concepts and how they are applicable to their daily lives, they taught me humility, patience and most importantly about love. From that experience, I discovered the medium in which I can impact the world is through education and programs focused on the youth.

Upon returning to the states, I decided to continue to mold my skills by enrolling in the Masters of Secondary Mathematics Education offered at The University of Akron. Through this program, I learned about the Columbus Global Academy and its mission to serve students who arrived from refugee camps and/or from countries torn apart by war or natural disasters. Many of the students at this school have little or no formal education and/or little or no literacy in their native language or in English. As soon as I discovered this school, I knew it was the place where I needed to be and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to complete my student teaching here in Columbus, Ohio.

The Columbus Global Academy is truly something special. Students from all over the city are bused here and I was told that there are over 85 languages spoken at this school. All teachers speak at least two languages and each classroom is staffed with an Instructional Assistant, who is bilingual. Most students are learning English as their third or fourth language, so close monitoring and personalized attention are imperative for their success. Students are grouped by their English language ability, which makes differentiation in instruction important to consider when planning lessons.

I have found that there is a thirst for knowledge here and many of my eighth grade students come during lunch for individualized assistance in mathematics or to practice their English. During my short time here I have been able to get to know a lot of my students, about their backgrounds and cultures. A few of my students are from East Africa and they continually help me improve my Swahili and I help them with English.

I have an amazing Mentor teacher, who has created an ideal environment that is conducive to education. He believes in positive motivation and is always encouraging and praising students for a job well done. He is patient, kind, and firm but gentle with his students – all the traits that I aspire to be.

As I reflect on this experience, each day I am learning more and more what it truly means to be a leader, educator and an overall better person. I am continually grateful for this experience and constantly humbled by the support of the staff, curiosity and generosity of the students, and overall love and caring that is demonstrated at this school.

Update!

Stephanie has accepted a position as a Mathematics Education Program Specialist --  in South Africa!  Congratulations, Stephanie!