After stepping down as student council adviser last year, dean of student life Patricia Jacobsen decided to take on a new task this year: starting a teaching fellowship program for high school students.
Jacobsen said that teaching is a multi-faceted job, and she began looking for students interested in a teaching fellowship at the beginning of the school year.
Jacobsen said she was inspired to start the program after teaching a Japanese elective alongside alumnus Atsuo Chiu, ’18.
“For most of the class, he taught, and I watched him teach,” Jacobsen said.
“But he did a lot of the legwork.”
Jacobsen added that seeing Chiu’s initiative made her realize that Country Day students have a lot to offer.
“There are so many talented kids who go to Country Day,” she said.
“It’s kind of a waste for them to just sit in a classroom all day when a lot of them have so much to share.”
In addition, Jacobsen said that teaching will help students overcome challenges they may face.
“Learning how to (make) lesson plans and how to deal with little bumps as they come along is going into the teaching component of it.”
However, Jacobsen said that students won’t be getting any GPA boosts or letter grades from teaching.
“Students are doing this more for the reason that people should do stuff that they do – for the experience,” she said.
So far, Jacobsen said she has multiple students who plan to teach a variety of classes.
“I have one junior who’s going to work with the fifth grade math teacher to be in the classroom and help out with math, and then I have another student who wants to teach Dutch and help with lower school French,” she said.
Jacobsen also has two groups of students teaching Chinese classes.
“One group wants to teach lower school students an intro to Chinese – just a couple of classes with colors, animals and stuff like that,” Jacobsen said.
The other group consists of sophomores Brian Chow and Ming Zhu, who chose to teach a Chinese class to high schoolers after Jacobsen mentioned the idea.
Chow remembered Jacobsen mentioning the idea of a Chinese class last year due to the number of international students.
“I was like, OK, and I told her ‘I can do it,’” Chow said.
“The school doesn’t have a Chinese program, and a lot of other schools do. Chinese is something I’m interested in, and I like to teach people new things.”
Chow then asked Zhu, who hails from Beijing, if he wanted to teach the class with him.
“When (Chow) called me and said he was teaching this, I was confident I could do it,” Zhu said.
Jacobsen worked with both Chow and Zhu prior to their first class, giving them teaching tips and helping them plan out the classes.
Chow and Zhu agreed that pronunciation is one of the harder parts of the Chinese language. So they decided they wanted to focus the majority of the class around learning to pronounce Chinese words.
“Pronunciation is what we’re doing first,” Chow said. “There are a lot of harder sounds that aren’t in English.”
Zhu agreed, saying that they want to teach students proper pronunciation.
“What we strive to do is to get people close to pronouncing words like a native speaker,” Zhu added.
Chow and Zhu plan to teach the class through the first quarter and possibly to the end of the semester as well.
“After pronunciation, if we have time, we might go into writing,” Zhu said.
Chow and Zhu plan to have their class in Jacobsen’s room (Room 3) during the Elective II time slot, but the time isn’t set in stone yet.
“A bunch of other people have been asking me if we could move it to lunch because they have elective conflicts,” Chow said.
While this is Chow’s and Zhu’s first formal teaching experience, Zhu said he isn’t worried, as he’s helped friends with homework before.
—By Ethan Monasa