When Students Become the Teacher

Rose Propp, Staff Writer

One of the things that the Staples High School community takes pride in are the teachers.

Students (sometimes) appreciate all the time and effort their teachers put in to making their learning experience as enjoyable and successful as possible.

But most of the time they don’t.

This is where the TA Program, or the Teacher Assistant Program, steps in.

In several classes throughout Staples, there are students who are experienced in the subject and take the role of a different kind of member of the classroom.

In Culinary Arts 1 and 2 and German, students and teachers are lucky enough to reap the benefits of having a teacher assistant in the classroom.

In Chef Grace’s Period 6 Culinary 1 class, Marissa Cipollone ’12 assists both students and teacher throughout the semester-long course.

“I help gather ingredients for students, tell them where certain ingredients are, fold laundry, put orders away and answer any questions that the students have,” says Cipollone.

With this laundry list (pun intended) of chores for a culinary TA, it is a wonder that any students involved in the program have a moment to breath. Not to worry though, Cipollone has a free period on top of the period that she TA’s and feels that she definitely has enough time to get her work done.

Chef Allison Grace who has been a culinary arts teacher for the past 8 years says that the Teacher Assistant program allows the assistant to work side by side with peers in the class and answer any questions that students might have.
Students who are interested in the program often approach their teacher or vise versa; the teacher more commonly approaches those who show their enjoyment in the kitchen.

“The Teacher Assistant Program gives kids an opportunity to be in the kitchen if that is where they really want to be,” said Chef Grace. “It is a very good way, if they are thinking about going to culinary school or if they take the cooking thing seriously, to spend time in the kitchen.”

Regarding the requirements for being a Teacher Assistant, everything is pretty simple. All you have to do is fill out a form from your guidance counselor and have experience in either the Culinary 1 or Culinary 2 classes.

Another class that offers the Teacher Assistant program at Staples is German language. Junior Tessa Schroll who had already taken German 5H and AP German before the start of this year asked her teacher what the next step was and was offered to join the TA program.

“As a TA I help the students in the class with their homework, and help them review tests that they didn’t do so well on. I also help field trips and write on the board while the teacher is speaking,” said Schroll ’13. “Basically I just try and do what the students need to understand the subject.”

As for pursuing a future in the subject, Schroll is not sure if she wants to become a teacher, but for now she enjoys helping people understand German and seeing how the teaching progress works.

Students who participate in the program receive credit for the class just like they would if they were a student.
The Teacher Assistant program has allowed students and faculty alike to explore the possibilities of the classroom with a helping hand from one another.