By: Cara Wells (Big Picture Class of 2018)
A high schooler’s biggest fear is what comes after high school. For some of us it was easy, we knew what we would do with our lives before we could walk, others...not so much. As a highschooler there are so many crucial decisions you have to make, and the sooner the better. I was one of the many who didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do after high school. However, since I joined Big Picture Learning Academy, it has helped me finally experience my interests in a unique way and decide what I want to do with my life.
Freshman and Sophomore years, I attended a traditional high school. I did okay, but it definitely was not my favorite thing in the world. I started my junior year off back in that traditional schools, and it just wasn't for me. I didn’t really like my teachers, and I had basically come to the realization that high school was no longer beneficial to me. I decided something had to change; I learned about a new program called Big Picture Learning Academy. This school is a little different than most. Instead of going to class five days a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays we find an internship that is related to our interests and connects us with professionals in careers that we could pursue later on in life. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for my internship, but I got the chance to shadow a kindergarten class for a day. I shadowed a small class that had a lot of kids with special needs. My first day went really well, and I decided to work there as an intern for the next two nine-week periods. I really enjoyed getting to work with these kids. I loved when I’d walk into the classroom and the kids would scream, “Ms. Cara!!” every morning. I loved getting close with the kids and even being able to make a personal impact on them.
One student, name withheld for privacy, who made the biggest impact on me, has Down’s Syndrome. She needed a lot of one on one help. At the beginning of the year, when I first started working with her she was defiant. She’s a super sweet kid; it was just hard and frustrating for her to understand what's going on. So the beginning was definitely a battle, and not just for me. She fought against all of the teachers who tried to help. But I saw her consistently twice every week and got the chance to work with her on a personal level. I worked very closely with her, and she got a lot of one-on-one attention. By the end of the internship she loved me. She would run up and hug me every time she saw me. She would follow instructions (most of the time), and I was one of the only people who could get her to participate. She started making great progress and learned almost all of her ABC’s and the sounds of each letter by the end of my internship. She had come a long way. It was really great to see a positive outcome after my time with her. By the end, I really felt like I had done something important. I had done more than just helping kids stay in their seats. I helped a student learn and grow. I did something that was actually worth doing.
Joining Big Picture Learning academy impacted me greatly. It completely changed how I view education. Without this program I might not have ever realized that I wanted to be a teacher, or at least not as soon as I did. It helped me gain a better understanding of what teaching is like. It made me feel confident about my decision to go into education. This program made me very excited for the future and what will come.
Cara Wells is a senior at Big Picture Learning Academy. Following graduation in May, Cara plans to attend JCTC before transferring to a 4-year university to pursue a degree, and eventually a career, in education.