Students Teaching Students: Meet Seven Hang, Angela Delfine, and Cami Jones

Cross-posted from TEACH.gov. This post is the fifth in a summer-long, weekly blog series celebrating young teachers. We hope these profiles of teachers who have inspired their students and increased their classroom’s performance will inspire the next generation of teachers! Please visit our blog to see the previous posts.

This week we’re profiling three teachers from Breakthrough Collaborative, an organization that places high school and college students in the classroom to teach high achieving, high risk younger students. Please meet Seven Hang, Angela Delfine, and Cami Jones.

Breakthrough seeks to “increase academic opportunity for highly motivated, underserved students and put them on the trajectory of a successful college path; and inspire and develop the next generation of teachers and educational leaders.” With their passion for kids and education, and through innovative methods, Hang, Delfine and Jones are doing just that.

All three teachers discovered their passion for education at an early age. Angela enjoyed playing “school” with her dolls when she was younger and began to envision herself in a life-size classroom as she grew older. Angela is now pursuing a Secondary Teaching Certificate in English, as well as a Spanish minor.

After taking a high school class with “the most upbeat, amazing, and inspiring teacher on campus,” Seven began to seriously consider entering the education field. He continues to inspire her today, and is “the kind of teacher [she wants] to be like: goofy, yet still respected in a positive, learning classroom.”

Cami discovered her passion for teaching in college once she had decided to pursue her first passion, literature. She’s now pursuing a degree in Secondary Education and English from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. Says Cami about her experience in classes at Northwestern: “I quickly learned that educational inequality is one of the most pressing contemporary social justice issues. At the same time, I was [learning] what I loved about literature.” Cami brings her passion for English to the classroom, and simultaneously, teaching renews her passion for literature.

While they’ve only spent several weeks in the classroom so far, all three teachers acknowledge that they’ve faced challenges. Taking care of the small details while focusing on greater goals has proved to be particularly challenging, but Cami is “learning to focus on the daily realities of running a classroom while simultaneously seeing [herself] as part of a larger movement.” Angela and Seven are constantly looking for ways to improve their techniques and inspire their students.

Despite these challenges, Cami asserts that the teaching profession needs more young people. “The system needs people with energy, passion, and new ideas, [people] who are ready to roll up their sleeves and engage completely.” The profession is changing, as are the students in the classroom, and “new, evolving teachers must come forward,” says Seven. “Young people find it easier to develop connections with students.”

Angela has used innovative and creative techniques to keep her students engaged. “I try to plan lessons that reach out to all students: visual, auditory and tactual/kinesthetic learners, artistic students, and introverted students.” After teaching the students food vocabulary in Spanish, she asked them to write a rap with ten of the words and perform at the front of the class. “The students really enjoyed the project!” says Angela.

Angela, Cami, and Seven find their days in the classroom tiring but know they want to continue. “Teaching is hard work,” says Cami, “but it is a career of direct engagement. Even though I leave work every day completely exhausted and knowing I still have a thousand things to do, I also leave with the feeling that I am engaging directly, I am working toward justice, and I am doing meaningful work.” Seven says that as a teacher, “you never stop wanting to improve. You never stop wanting to learn. Teaching does not stop the moment you walk out of your classroom. You become a teacher for life.”