Counselor to the Classroom
Posted 10/08/2015 03:00PM

Every summer, CDE hires young people ages 18 and over to work as counselors for our youngest Summer Program children. Some of these counselors find such joy in this job that it inspires them to become teachers! We spoke to a few CDE veterans and current staff members about how CDE influenced their decision to teach.

Taylor Sayward ’09

Taylor has worked at CDE since 2010. His first session was with CDE and subsequent sessions have been with the Minnows, the youngest CDE students ages 4 to 6. Last year he worked as a teaching assistant in grades 4 and 5 at Nagoya International School, and in July 2015 he is moving to Myanmar to teach Third Grade. 

I think all CDE staff members want to become teachers so their summers are free to work in Lugano! Working at CDE made me see what a challenge it is to teach children. It’s nice that the kids push you to work hard, and it’s rewarding to see your work pay off for somebody besides just yourself. Betsy [Newell] always says the more you \put into it, the more you get out of it, which is the definitely the case when you work with children.

The most important thing that CDE, TASIS, and really any international school does for kids is to expose them to as much diversity as possible — diversity in people, places, and experiences. The common denominator is always international-mindedness or global citizenship; when those kids grow up playing and working with people from all around the world, compassion and acceptance of different cultures has a way of developing very organically.

Laura Fox

Laura began teaching with CDE in 2011. She recently graduated with an MAT in Elementary Education. This summer she is serving as Drama Coordinator in CDE’s new literature-based drama program. She is then moving to Jeju Island, South Korea to teach in the elementary school at Branksome Hall Asia.

I was an English major in college, so I knew there were a lot of doors open to me, but I still had NO idea what I wanted to do when I graduated in 2010. I thought teaching might be a possibility, so I moved to a small town in France to teach English. Although it was a great experience, I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue education until I got to TASIS that summer. Walking onto campus you just feel this energy all around you, from the teachers, the kids, and the beauty that surrounds the School. Everyone at TASIS is excited about learning, and you can feel it! You can see the kids’ progress and emotional growth happening before your eyes. As a teacher, that’s always the goal. You want to see your students bloom, and it’s incredible to see that happen at CDE every summer. I applied for grad school education programs when I got home from my first summer at TASIS. Adults refer to the language “barrier,” as if language gets in the way. But kids don’t know anything about language barriers. To them, language is just one form of communicating, and not even the most important. You don’t need language to play football or make friendship bracelets. They leave full of self-confidence and new international friendships that often last a lifetime. How great is that?

Johannes Nelson ’07

Johannes was at CDE from 2007 to 2011. After working as a teaching assistant in Venezuela and San Francisco, he is now teaching 4th grade at the International College in Beirut, Lebanon.

Plain and simple: CDE made working with kids fun. The structure of summer school is such that unassessed, kind of ‘do-what-you-feel-like fun’ is front and center, in and out of the classroom. You can see this on the faces of the kids and on those of the adults shepherding them around. The element of fun created room for me to develop a relationship with the students that I taught at CDE as well as with my colleagues that simply isn’t possible during the academic year.

When my 27 4th graders here in Beirut are having 27 different, irreconcilable problems and making a racket about each and every one of them, I breathe deeply and remember some wise old adage-sounding thing that Betsy probably said, remember the sound of hundreds of kids laughing at something, remember the two-teacher to five-student classroom ratio…I remember all that and in so doing, remember that I got into it for the fun, and I smile at all 27 of my students now, imagining them in red shirts, telling myself, man I really ought to get back to Lugano this summer for another dose of whatever it is that surrounds it. More things should be fun.

Chris Nelson ’09

Chris started working as a Junior Counselor at CDE the summer after graduation. From 2010-2012 he worked with the Minnows program. He teaches 5th grade English and Social Studies at the International School of Manila, where he also coaches middle school basketball and varsity golf.

After spending the summers working with kids I already knew that teaching was the way I wanted to go. But what CDE showed me and what really helped was the dynamic between the staff members. The way that they treated each other and interacted with the kids immediately bolstered my desire to teach and be around more people like them.

Programs like CDE are great because the kids are really able to interact and learn with other children from all over the world. This is a cultural eye-opener for everyone at CDE — counselors and kids included — because there are so many relationships and connections between borders and continents that don’t really happen anywhere else. Often times great connections are made between kids that don’t speak a common language at all at the start of the summer. They teach and learn from each other and find a way to communicate. Many of the kids arrive a little nervous and might shed a few tears saying goodbye to Mom and Dad, but by the end the tears are for the friends they don’t want to leave.

Matthew Lilly

Matthew started working with CDE in 2011 and has taught French, English, and Italian. He has just finished working as a language-teaching assistant in Nice, France, teaching 13 classes of children ages 6 to 11.

My time at CDE has really made me feel comfortable being in front of groups of children. When you’re getting soaked during a water balloon fight or having to dress up in flippers for a skit, you can’t really take yourself too seriously. That’s a unique benefit of CDE that I was able to take with me into the academic year. I’ve also really enjoyed finding new ways to make language-learning fun. At this age we’re really just establishing the foundation to make students want to continue with the language. My favorite thing about CDE is watching children form friendships with others who come from such different cultures. It’s what I hope they take home from TASIS more than anything else.


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