Exploring life in front of a classroom

In a New York City classroom this summer, Stephanie Naing ’23 decided against  giving her sixth-grade students another formula to memorize: Area = base x height.

Instead, she drew a parallelogram for them, shaded in the triangle at one end and showed how it fits perfectly into the triangle at the other end.

“The students were shocked and amazed that it made so much sense,” Naing said. “I wanted to show them that if they’re taking standardized tests and they don’t understand something, they can draw a diagram and logic it out rather than thinking they can’t answer the question because they don’t know the formula.”

It’s “aha” moments like this one this summer that are making Naing realize that she’s made the right choice wanting to go into education.

Naing, a sociology major who is minoring in education and Southeast Asian studies, is working with sixth and seventh graders this summer who are part of Prep for Prep, a nonprofit that helps students from New York City prepare for — and then pay for – a place at an independent day school.

“After I read their mission statement, to serve students of color who might come from lower income backgrounds or who might be attending schools that aren’t able to prepare them as well as other schools for college, I knew it was what I was interested in doing,” she said.

Each weekday morning, Naing teaches a class that helps students prepare for the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE). In the afternoon, she is a teaching assistant for a class called Problems and Issues in Modern American Society, where seventh-grade students learn to write 8-10 page research papers. At the end of the day, students take part in a recreation period – and Naing is the advisor to the dance club.

“It’s eye-opening,” she said of being a lead teacher in the classroom. “I think this experience is definitely pushing me toward the teaching route.”

Naing won a Summer Experience Grant to help her pay for expenses this summer and make up for taking a lower-paying job. She was able to sublet an apartment closer to her job on the Upper West Side to ease the one-hour commute from her parents’ home.

“Being able to have that income helped alleviate some of the stress and helped me to get the experience I needed,” she said.

Last summer, Naing also won a Summer Experience Grant to use toward an Einaudi Center global summer internship, organized by Einaudi’s Southeast Asia Program. During her internship, she conducted research with the Inya Institute, a nonprofit focused on advancing the social sciences, arts and humanities related to Myanmar. Naing, who is Burmese, conducted research and wrote a report about the Burmese diaspora community in the U.S., a report that was published in the institute’s newsletter.

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