ExternshipsStudent ContributorSummer Opportunities

Liz Smith ’18 @ Rippowam Cisqua School

My experience at Rippowam Cisqua School was nothing short of insightful, interesting and fun. Rippowam Cisqua School is located in Westchester County in NY, and is a private institution. Being that I went to only public schools until I came to Gettysburg College, this externship really provided me with a deeper understanding of an unfamiliar environment. It was amazing to me the resources which the students were given, from Mac computers to use in their computer labs to programs to help them organize their work, the students were provided with many tools to help them succeed in the classroom. I also found it impressive regarding how the students were so passionate about their school work and excited to show me what they were working on. My entire externship experience I just kept thinking back to my own time in sixth grade, comparing
and contrasting it to what I was seeing at Rippowam. As a 6th grader I definitely thought that school was important, but I did not challenge myself. In this school I have witnessed, just in the past week, students really giving their best effort and working hard for the grades they want to achieve.

The big project that Ms. Polos’s class was working on this week was the final touches on their big Rome Research project. This project was one of three big ones that they had for their language arts and humanities class, but instead of a fun and creative project, it is an essay. The students were very forthcoming to me in asking for help regarding edits and how to phrase certain statements. I was happy to help in any way that I could!

The environment at Rippowam Cisqua School is bright, challenging and relaxed. Liz Smith photoIt is not difficult to see as an outsider how and why the school has shaped its students into ones who are intelligent and rather focused on their school work (as focused as 6th graders can be). During this experience though, I was not just an aid in the classroom. I had the  opportunity as well to follow my students around on their daily schedules as well as visit various other classrooms to get a deeper understanding of the private school. From music, science, math and art it became clear to me rather quickly that Rippowam was focused on developing these students into well-rounded individuals. In my other classroom visits, the one which stood out to me the most was my visit to an 8th grade history classroom. In this class it was really fascinating to me how the teacher kept the attention of his students right before their lunch period. Bouncing from the board to the projector to discussion to worksheets, this teacher was able to keep the information coming at the students in various chunks to keep them on their toes.

From my externship experience at Rippowam Cisqua School, I have gained valuable insight into what it means to both be a teacher and a student at a private institution. The observations and methods which I have gathered are ones which I will undoubtedly take with me as I move towards my student teaching and eventual teaching jobs.