I can’t believe we are nearing the end of the fall semester! I am grateful for all the memories that I have made since moving here, and looking forward to what the spring semester has in store.


I moved to Philadelphia this past summer from Buffalo, in upstate New York, and before that spent a year living in Boston. One of the things that I love most about living here, beyond the affordability, is the strong sense of community that I felt in Buffalo with the amenities, diversity, and resources of Boston.


Like Buffalo and Boston, Philadelphia is a sports city. As a baseball fan, attending Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park was one of my favorite things to do with friends visiting from out of town. Throughout the fall, and with winter approaching, I am looking forward to hopefully catching one more Eagles game and a couple of Flyers games as well.


For me, a sense of community and place has always been tied heavily to sports. I enjoy the atmosphere of the games, but also the conversations with hometown fans. I have learned so much about this city, and its history, through conversations in between innings or plays with fans who have spent their entire lives in this city. Those connections with members of the community, facilitated by sports, are unique and meaningful to me and speak to the strength of this community.


Day to day I spend most of time in West Philadelphia, either at Penn, my student-teaching placement at Sayre High School, or in the community. Much like Philadelphia itself, there is a strong sense of pride and community in this neighborhood and so many opportunities to experience and explore all that the neighborhood has to offer. I am so fortunate to be spending a year living in and learning from this community!


My decision to come to Penn GSE was a difficult one because I had to choose between this and a few other really exciting opportunities that I am so grateful for. I knew nothing about Philadelphia, and had spent very little time in the city, but I did spend a lot of time researching programs. Throughout this process I worked to identify what I needed and wanted from a school and program. Near the top of that list was a supportive community, and I found that here at Penn throughout the application process, and throughout the program as well. This experience has been immensely challenging, though I have never felt alone or like I was not being supported by the folks here at Penn. That has made all the difference to me.


While a supportive community has been immensely important to me, the single most important factor in my decision was Penn’s commitment to students here in Philadelphia. In researching my options, I was struck by how deep Penn’s commitment to Philadelphia students and the community, and by extension to the students in UTAP, runs. This is a school and program that will support you in becoming a transformative and effective educator for students. Penn is unique in that way. You receive support, an outstanding education, and the tools to be an effective educator in a close-knit and deeply driven community of scholars, educators, and peers. That was the biggest factor in my decision and I could not imagine being anywhere else because of that.


As a student in UTAP, Penn’s commitment to students in the community is reflected in the coursework. Throughout my courses over the summer and fall semesters there has been an intentional effort to prepare us to work effectively, and with a deep sense of compassion and empathy, with students in our school placements. While balancing a full course load with student teaching obligations is challenging, it also engenders a sense of community, solidarity, and resourcefulness within the cohort. There is a real sense of accomplishment in looking back, both individually and collectively, upon all that we have done up until this point. It has certainly been one of the most challenging experiences of my life, though it is one that I am immensely grateful for.


Above all else, I would like to express my gratitude for all the folks at Sayre High School, though especially my ninth grade students. Every day I am thankful for the remarkably kind, funny, and determined group of young people that I get to work with and learn from. I could neither be more proud of them, nor more humbled by all that they do in our classroom each day.