“It’s really rewarding to see how much [students] change over the course of the semester,” said senior Maia Labrie about her experience as a teaching assistant (TA) for Professor Debra Sheats’ section of The Reflective Woman. “Students become more open minded because of a lot of the discussions we have.”
This fall, through the Assistantship Mentoring Program (AMP), Sheats and Labrie have had the opportunity to collaborate for a second year on this course. AMP, one of three student employment programs offered by the Center for Community Work and Learning, is designed to support student and faculty/staff partnerships on teaching, research, and programs. Sheats presented Labrie with the opportunity to apply with her for AMP funding after having Labrie as a TRW student and recognizing her strong academic, written communication, and organizational skills.
For Sheats, the biggest reward of participating in AMP is witnessing her mentees grow and develop. “I saw [Maia] come in as a first-year a little more tentative, and … now as a senior, [she has] … spread her wings and taken responsibility for discussions and coordinating,” Sheats said of Maia’s progress. Sheats also appreciates having Labrie to brainstorm with when preparing for class. Sheats said that the experience of working through AMP has further reinforced her enjoyment of working with students.
Labrie commented on how she enjoys helping others learn, and feels she has also learned a lot about teaching and professionalism through this experience. Labrie was initially interested in becoming a TA because she had a TA in her own TRW class as a first year. “I really think that it’s beneficial for first-year students to have another student who’s older than them to go to with questions about St. Kate’s and TRW,” she said.
As an English and music major, Labrie also believes that the skills she is developing through this assistantship will help her in graduate school and other future endeavors. “One of the things that you do in grad school is you TA classes, so I feel like getting a head start on figuring out how to work with a professor and work with other students is definitely beneficial. [I’m] able to stand up in front of people and talk without being flustered. There’s a pretty wide variety of skills that I pick up through this that I think are applicable in other aspects of life.”
Labrie’s favorite part about AMP is having the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty. She commented that there are not many of funding sources outside of AMP for this kind of work, so she appreciates this program and opportunity. Sheats has enjoyed getting to work with students through AMP in a way that is different from teaching. Part of what makes the program unique is its focus on mentorship and relationship building. Sheats recommended this program to other faculty and students, and also shared on the value of an AMP partnership for lightening faculty members’ workloads. “I encourage people who are, perhaps, hesitant or unsure to take a chance. … You can accomplish all kinds of things if you go into it with an open mind.”
For more information about the program or to apply, visit stkate.edu/cwl/amp. Applications to participate in Assistantship Mentoring Program during spring 2017 are due November 15, 2016.
By Kourtney Johnson ’17