Posted: December 7, 2009
By Madgalena Georgieva '10
This summer, Mika Weissbuch '11 put aside her role as a student to lead a class of her own. For six weeks, she taught at Breakthrough San Francisco, a nonprofit program serving low-income middle school students.
"It made me realize that I want to teach in some capacity," said Weissbuch about her experience. "I know that education and education equity will be part of my future in some way."
It was the second summer that Weissbuch, a critical social thought major with a minor in politics, spent teaching at Breakthrough. In 2008, she taught English and environmental studies, and over the summer she offered fifth- and sixth-graders a media and ethics class. Weissbuch designed the latest course based on a Mount Holyoke journalism class she took with senior lecturer and former New York Times reporter Catherine Manegold.
In her own class Weissbuch wanted to "develop students who are media savvy and literate in diverse discourses" by enabling them to recognize product placements and analyze ads. Her students grappled with issues like race, class, and gender as portrayed and influenced by the media.
At Breakthrough, Weissbuch also cotaught two nonacademic electives, led writing workshops, and organized fun activities such as Olympic games, talent shows, a cultural day, and a career day. Many of the tutoring and advising skills she applied came from her involvement in the Weissman Center's Take The Lead and Speaking, Arguing, and Writing (SAW) programs.
"The training I received from the SAW program was really helpful in the classroom," said Weissbuch, who has now joined another Weissman Center initiative--she volunteers in the after-school media program at the Peck Middle School in nearby Holyoke.
"If you really want to get at the root of the problem, education is where you should look," Weissbuch said.