Center for Community Engagement

Internship Postcards: Christine Lyons '12E

Christine Lyons

August 2011—story by Jenny Morgan, photo courtesy of Christine Lyons ‘12E

Christine Lyons ‘12E (pictured on the far right in the back row) has wanted to teach for as long as she can remember.

This summer, 150 students interned in twelve states and thirteen countries around the world through the Center for Community Engagement’s summer internships programs. Each day this week, we’ll share a different internship postcard. Today's postcard is from Christine Lyons '12E, who interned with the Literacy Project in Ware, Massachusetts.

Christine Lyons ‘12E (pictured on the far right in the back row) has wanted to teach for as long as she can remember. “I love teaching. It really feels like my calling— I’ve been tutoring since I was fourteen years old.” By the time she graduates in December, Lyons—from Plymouth, Massachusetts—will have four educational internships under her belt. Each internship has afforded Lyons new insights on education and opportunities to grow as an educator. At the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Oxford, Mississippi, Lyons discovered her interest in curriculum development while creating ready-made lesson plans that incorporated civil rights education into basic subjects. Lyons has always wanted to teach high school, but she wasn’t certain until an internship with Northfield Mount Hermon’s Upward Bound program in Mount Hermon, MA, required her to teach and mentor high school students in stretches of ten or more hours. “[It] confirmed for me that this was the age group I wanted to work with.” Finally, working with the Literacy Project in Ware, MA— both this summer and last— has allowed Lyons to explore her interest in rural education while becoming an integral part of the Literacy Project community.

The Literacy Project teaches over 400 students each year in five locations throughout western Massachusetts, offering basic adult education in literacy, numeracy, and preparation for the GED exam. Lyons explains, however, that there’s a lot more to that picture. “The Literacy Project is so more than about helping people to get their GEDs. A big part of what they do is social justice work. They help people get back on their feet. They are really meeting the needs of the community.” Last summer, Lyons divided her time between tutoring in a morning adult basic literacy class of ten students and working one-on-one with GED preparatory students in the afternoon. This summer, she’s has the chance to develop and teach her own physics unit, create a grammar curriculum, and continue to help out with the morning basic education classes. Lyons has loved the opportunity to creatively address different learning styles. “Trying to meet the needs of different types of learners was my biggest challenge. The students have tremendous strengths and multiple types of intelligences. I’ve tried to tailor my lessons to their strengths.” Lyons, who also tutored for night classes this past spring, has loved every moment with the Literacy Project. “I felt I was in dialogue with [the community]. I was getting as much out of it as I was putting back into it.” A double major in English and sociology, Lyons hopes to enroll in the University of Massachusetts’ TEACH Bridges to the Future Master’s degree program. While she can’t imagine not teaching, Lyons is also deeply interested in addressing rural poverty and rejuvenating rural schools at the policy level. Lyons is confident, however, that having teaching experience will enable her to be the best possible advocate for rural communities. “You have to get in the trenches and do the hard work before you look at the big picture.”

Stay tuned for tomorrow's postcard from Eugene Golubitskiy '12, who interned at TransConflict in Belgrade, Serbia.  You can read all of the internship postcards here.

Jenny Morgan is a staff writer for the CCE. She welcomes any questions or comments at jmorgan[at]amherst[dot]edu.