Rachel S

One Title, Many Roles

Rachel Siegel | Berkshires

Rachel Siegel is a lifelong camper, counselor, and rosh edah hailing from Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. When she’s not dreaming of her summers at Wingdale, she is currently educating and inspiring middle school students in Orlando, Florida.

When people ask me what I do for a living I consider myself a jack of many trades. I play a myriad of different roles. I’m an actress, a counselor, a parent figure, a performer, a data analyst, a lecturer, a student, and a curriculum planner. But to sum it up simply, I’m a teacher.

I always knew I wanted to work with kids but never knew through which modality would be most beneficial for both children and myself. Luckily, I found education. I never realized what an important role teachers played until I started teaching through Teach for America. I am recently very aware how I took my education and teachers for granted completely. Now, having been in the classroom for a year and a few weeks, my notions of what it means to teach and educate have completely changed.  While I am still a novice, I do believe my experiences working in a low income school have provided great insight to the role teacher play as well as into our fragile, often flawed state of education.

While the campers I worked with at Ramah and the students I now teach come from completely different backgrounds, the skills of leading and inspiring children are constant. Kids really just need someone who care for them deeply while teaching them morals. This remains true both at Ramah and in public schools.

I am fortunate enough to wake up everyday and work with 125 deserving individuals that I learn something new from everyday. School is a safe place where my students know that they will be cared for by professionals who work so hard to help these admirable adolescents.

While I may be teaching them ancient world history, they are teaching me valuable skills of perseverance, integrity and joy. While I think I am just simply greeting my students as they enter my classroom, I am learning it may have been the most genuine or caring conversation they had all day. While I am making sure I am teaching the proper curriculum standards and following my lesson plans, they are teaching me that its okay to get a little sidetracked and engage in dialogue about relevant issues that affect them. While I am frustrated when students act out or take their frustrations out on me, I often learn it is really a barrier to hide the educational deficits and emotional pain they unfortunately have. While sometimes I am exhausted by all of “the extra” that teachers need to do when not teaching children, I am reminded that it is all worth it when I see a smiling face and am greeted with big hugs from former students in the hallways, who tell me how much they miss me this year and appreciated me as a teacher.

I am constantly amazed by what these 12 year olds can teach me about life. As the school year is beginning, I challenge you to just listen to a child in your life. You may not even realize how a simple act of listening and caring can have on both a child’s life as well as yours.