Just a few days into summer break, several Marksmen were back in the classroom at St. Mark’s, but not as students. As counselors of the Brendan Court ’06 Summer Enrichment Program, these high school students were now the teachers.
The Brendan Court ’06 Program offers Upper School students the opportunity to give back to the community by offering sixth and seventh graders from schools around Dallas a refresher course in the core subjects of math, social studies, science, and English. A total of 12 Marksmen, six upperclassmen teachers and six underclassmen volunteers, are participating this summer in the three-week program. Not only does the program provide high-quality learning experiences for the students who attend, but it also allows St. Mark’s students to explore teaching.
“Teaching in the same classroom in which I once learned gives me a newfound appreciation for the incredible dedication my teachers bring every day to support me as a student,” said Meyer Zinn ’20, one of the teachers working in the program. “My work has been very rewarding and doing my part to serve the community of Dallas as a teacher has put many of my challenges as a student into perspective.”
The teachers in the various subjects are allowed to prepare their own lessons and teach their own classes each day without intervention by adults, giving them more insight into what teaching as a profession is really like.
“These Marksmen have shown an interest and a passion for teaching their subjects, so they get to pick whatever they think is appropriate to teach for the age levels that they are teaching,” said Isabel Toledo, St. Mark’s Spanish teacher and Assistant Director of Community Service, who co-directs the summer program along with Jorge Correa. “It’s also an opportunity for them to find out if teaching is something that they would like to pursue.”
In the morning, the teachers hold classes, followed by a break for lunch. Then, in the afternoon, there is a writing lab and a science lab. The program is tuition-free for every student who wishes to attend. Additionally, Central Market has partnered with the program this year to provide lunch and snacks.
“The idea is to keep them busy during the summer instead of staying home and playing video games,” said Ms. Toledo. “We want them to come to campus, make some friends, and, hopefully, leave with a seed of knowledge that will grow for the rest of their lives.”
Once a week, the entire group takes a field trip. Some of their excursions included Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the Flight Museum in Addison, and Jumpstreet. “The field trips are also learning experiences,” said Jorge Correa. “We try to take them to places in Dallas where they haven’t been before.”
The Brendan Court ’06 Summer Enrichment Program began as the Mesquite Program in the late 1980s and was renamed to honor the memory of Brendan Court ’06, a beloved student who passed away during his senior year at St. Mark’s. The Program begins at the start of June and lasts for three weeks.