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Teaching Assistant Stories

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Catalyst Teaching Assistant Katherine Hamby
First-Generation College Grad Connects with Students and Parents

As a Catalyst Teaching Assistant, Katherine Hamby was amazed at the huge improvement in her middle school students’ math scores from the start of the program. Besides their marked improvements in math, the students increased their classroom participation and exhibited high enthusiasm during the exercises. Katherine thoroughly enjoyed working with the classroom teacher, Nancy Johnson, who encouraged her to contribute to the instruction and to deliver her own 30-minute lessons.

Katherine was a first generation to college student herself and had to arrange much of her own financing for college. With that experience she was a strong mentor to her students, who were mostly from low-income parents who did not attend college. Katherine‘s openness and sincere interest in the students encouraged them to approach her for assistance.

A program highlight for Katherine was witnessing the students’ excitement as they toured Santa Clara University during “College Day.” Her students questioned SCU students about their college experience. For many, this was their first time on a university campus and the first time they had ever considered attending college. At the program’s College Information Night, Katherine participated on the “On College Track” panel and answered questions from parents and students about her experiences attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The parents were sincerely interested and Katherine realized she was making an impact on the parents as well as the students.

Due to her ALearn experience, Katherine now understands the importance of completing Algebra in middle school as a key step in preparing for college. Her work at ALearn has galvanized her desire to mentor and educate students as a career.

Thanks Katherine for your great work!


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MAP Teaching Assistant Greg Hambrecht
"Amazing and Precious" Moments

Greg’s passion for education began when his high school English teacher inspired him to want to make a difference in the world through the power of teaching. He began by correcting papers during summers at Sacred Heart High School, and when he saw the ad for the ALearn Teaching Assistant (TA) for MAP while at Santa Clara University, he immediately applied. He was offered the position on the spot and worked at Oak Grove the first summer and Evergreen at McKinley the second summer.

Greg was most amazed by the impact of the Math Acceleration Program (MAP) class on the kids who were the most challenged. On the first day, the teacher asked Greg to provide 1:1 support with two of the students that needed the most attention. One of those students told him “I’m stupid – I’m terrible at math and I don’t want to even try”. So every day, “Mr. Greg” provided positive feedback and attempted to make the math problems interesting by presenting the problems in context of everyday life rather than using algebraic expressions. The student eventually thanked him for making math “fun”.

Greg was also moved by the happy and proud looks on the student’s faces once they got their first A. Greg was able to film many of these moments and shared it during the “end of program” celebration, which brought tears to many of the student’s parents. These moments were both “amazing and precious”.

The course also allowed him to interface and develop a great synergy with the other TAs and credits his teachers with equipping him with classroom management and teaching strategies.

Greg majored in English and minored in Urban Education at Santa Clara University and now brings his energy, passion and creativity to Fremont High School where as an English teacher, he teaches 4 sections of Literature and Writing (Freshmen) and one section of Global Literature (English Language Learners). He is the club adviser for Hip Hop Club, Speech and Debate, and Club Grammar.

We thank Greg for supporting ALearn and we wish him much success as a teacher.