This past summer I interned at South Bronx United teaching math, physics, and engineering to 7th, 8th and 9th grade students. Well, that is what I technically did, but there was a lot more to it than that. As a rising senior at Binghamton University, I was contemplating going into teaching as a career, and I figured the best way to see if it was for me was to actually do it. South Bronx United provided this opportunity that I was looking for and so much more. From playing icebreakers on the first day in training to rapping to a bus full of students after Six Flags on our last day, it was one of the most formative experiences of my life so far.
My internship gave me opportunities that a classroom could never provide. The biggest opportunity I received was a challenge. At college, and even in the training provided by South Bronx United, I was always able to do things in a rather controlled environment. When I stepped into the classroom at Bronx Leadership Academy 2, it was a different animal. It was a real experience of teaching real kids. That meant things were at stake, and it forced me and the other interns to put in 100% effort every day so we wouldn’t let the kids down. The kids were the best part by far.
Of course staying up late every night for five weeks trying to figure out what I would say in class was frustrating. Of course having to commute an hour to work everyday made me want to scream. Of course having to deal with kids being kids made me lose a lot of hair. Of course standing in the sun for two and a half hours on the soccer field was brutal. Of course after ending work one day to realize that my car was towed made me want to punch a hole in a wall. Don’t worry, only one more. Of course it was worth it. Every single time I finished my back-to-back classes I felt this sense of achievement. Whether it was seeing a class full of students really interested in a physics lesson or challenging students on some difficult math problems, I felt there was real growth happening in the classroom. This alone made it all worth it.
On the soccer field and field trips I had some of the most enjoyable moments of my summer. Really getting to know the kids and how they are such real and genuine people was amazing. I formed connections and, hopefully, impacted the kids for the rest of their lives because I know their impact will last the rest of mine.
I just wanted to end with a shout out to all of the staff at SBU who have formed and continue to grow a community of student-athletes by putting in so much work everyday of their lives. The people in this organization make me have hope for the social change that many places need.
Adam Priest is currently a senior at Binghamton University.