Sweet Briar students explore teaching at R.S. Payne

| June 1, 2012

At Sweet Briar, internships are a vital part of the academic experience. They’re also a great way for students to explore possible careers, find out what they’re passionate about and build connections with prospective employers. This summer, more than 50 Sweet Briar students are interning across the U.S. and abroad. Our Facebook series follows many of them as they apply what they’ve been learning in the classroom to the ‘real world.’

And sometimes, that ‘real world’ is in fact another classroom. For the past few weeks, rising seniors Alyssa Berkeley and Jessica Murphy have been interning at Lynchburg’s Gifted Opportunities Center at R.S. Payne Elementary School. Berkeley teaches mostly science to fourth-graders; Murphy teaches social studies to one of two fifth-grade classes.

With its creative curriculum, the G.O. Center turned out to be a perfect fit for Murphy, who double-majors in dance and liberal studies:

“An unexpected surprise when I first began teaching was to find that they were working on their spring musical,” she said. “When I informed my mentor teacher of my dance background, she allowed me to choreograph several of the numbers.”

Clearly, Murphy has had a blast utilizing her talent.

“The students are so full of suggestions and enthusiasm. I cannot wait to see the whole finished project in a few weeks!”

Berkeley’s experience has been just as positive:

“The best part of this internship by far has been having my students tell me that learning science with me is the best part of their day,” she said. “It has inspired me to want to learn more and become a better science teacher for them.”

At Sweet Briar, Berkeley majors in elementary and special education. The internship allows her to put many of her educational theories to the test, and to interact with her students in ways she didn’t anticipate before.

“I love looking up little facts for them and being able to answer their complicated questions,” she said. “They light up every time we work on their animal projects, and it’s oh so much fun to experience them having ‘a-ha!’ moments.”

In just a few weeks, Berkeley has grown attached to them.

“I’ve come to know these kids better than I’ve known most of the classes I’ve worked with since I came to Sweet Briar, and they are a wonderful and diverse group of children and have taught me more than I could ever have imagined in the past three weeks.”

With only a few days left before summer break, their internships are almost over, but both students say they would like to come back next year.

“This has really stretched my boundaries as a teacher and has been a very educating and fun experience,” Berkeley said. “If I wasn’t in love with teaching already, this would have made me be!”

Murphy agrees:

“I would love to come back and do my actual student-teaching here. In these short few weeks I’ve already learned so much about what being a teacher is really all about. They are the world’s best multi-taskers for sure! I have developed the utmost respect for my host teacher and her colleagues, and I can’t believe my time with them has come to an end so soon. Hopefully I can work with them again in the future.”


Contact: Janika Carey


Category: Dance, Education Programs, Liberal Studies, Uncategorized