Today we’re introducing you to Alex, our summer intern! In response to COVID-19, we shifted from our traditional in-person programming at two partner sites to an expanded low-contact literacy and enrichment program at a total of five sites. Alex been instrumental in developing all of our fun and engaging curriculum for this program. We’re so fortunate to have Alex on our team this summer. Learn more about her below!

Can you share some information on your background and how you got involved with School on Wheels/what lead you to the Summer Intern position?

I am originally from Indianapolis. I moved to Wisconsin to attend Marquette University and moved back to Indianapolis right after graduation. I taught in Washington Township for two years and then in IPS (Indianapolis Public Schools) for three years. Early in my career a close friend of mine in SPOKES, also a volunteer tutor, thought I would really enjoy learning more about School on Wheels and invited me to a monthly meeting. I joined SPOKES shortly after.

Last year, I moved to Chicago to pursue my master’s degree in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University. My coursework challenges me to develop skills and tools necessary to address and think broadly about complex issues facing education. In particular, how social structures and institutions shape the policies and practices of the education system and its outcomes. As part of the program, we are asked to apply our knowledge and skills while working within an educational organization or institution. My timing was right when School on Wheels had decided to move forward with a summer program.

What does your role as the Summer Intern entail?

The main role of my internship has been to aid in providing the children and families School on Wheels serves with equitable opportunity to participate in summer academic, enrichment programming. Instead of cancelling summer programming in response to COVID-19, School on Wheels decided to convert their programming from an in person format. I developed summer programming for elementary, middle, and high-school students. Each week of the program included math, reading, writing, art, and science or history activities. Our goal was to make the activities as hands-on and engaging as we could to balance from the time students had to spend online in the 2020 Spring Semester.

School on Wheels is a fervent advocate that education can be a sustainable solution to breaking homelessness cycles. I am learning about ways School on Wheels works with schools and community partners to address educational inequity students impacted by homelessness face. This inequity is further exacerbated due to COVID-19 and the repercussions this crisis will have on homeless youth are of great concern.

Do you have a favorite part or thing you’ve enjoyed most working with School on Wheels this summer?

The thing I’ve enjoyed most working with School on Wheels this summer has been the support and conversations with School on Wheels staff members to not only make the summer program work, but also to troubleshoot and proactively problem solve, the best ways we can, for the upcoming school year.

You were named IPS Teacher of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year. Can you share a bit about that?

It was an honor to be named IPS teacher of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year. I was challenged to demonstrate the type of learning and character I hope students foster within my classroom and curriculum – reflection, action, and social awareness. Serving as Indianapolis Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year provided a platform to explore topics in education I was passionate about and attempt to promote beneficial ideology.

What’s one fun fact about yourself or something people would be surprised to know about you?

One fun fact about me is that I spent three months interning for a disaster relief organization in Beaumont, Texas. We were rebuilding a church that was completely demolished by a hurricane. I lived in a trailer on site and taught volunteers from all over the country each week how to use tools and building materials during various stages of the project.