Boys & Girls Club Gives Future Teacher Elizabeth Cottrell a True Initiation

Ever since she could remember, Elizabeth Cottrell wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. Or so she thought. “Lizzie” recently completed an internship and is now rethinking her future plans.

DSC_7009City High Intern Elizabeth Cottrell with Dominic Panucci, Program Coordinator & CH Mentor

According to Dominic Panucci, her program coordinator at the Boys & Girls Club of Carnegie, “This isn’t a school, but it’s the closest thing most high school kids will get to working in a school. We get some difficult kids. . .  some have issues or troubled home situations. So when we have our interns come in, they get to see the other side of the coin. I love the program, because I think it is important for them at a young age to start thinking about what they want to do in college. . .   or even after college.”

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And Mr. Panucci knows this personally, as he himself grew up spending his time at the Boys & Girls Club of Carnegie. It helped him make his own commitment to return to work with this community organization once he graduated from college.

At the Club, which offers internships exclusively to City High, Lizzie got to experience the whole range of activities: she did the homework room, game room, gym, computer room, arts & crafts, supervised groups outdoors, etc. Panucci reports, “When she was here, we wanted her to work in every room so she could get a taste of everything that’s going on here.” This approach sure paid off. “Doing all that. . .  made me realize that yes the little kids are really adorable. . .  and fun to work with. . . but now I realize that I want to help the middle school education crowd. And that’s actually what I’m enrolled in now at Robert Morris.”

“For a while there, I was a little hesitant about becoming a teacher,” she reveals. “OMG do I really want to work with kids. It was like the first time I became really immersed with them and it was a real eye-opener. But then once I settled in and realized my place, where I had to go, the routine, I actually realized that I really did like teaching. It really did confirm my decision.” So her 13-week internship was very helpful in focusing her career goals and removing any doubt.

Lizzie learned a few other things about herself in the experience. “I learned that I wasn’t as confident as I needed to be and had to work on that. I improved my communication skills which are very important… being able to communicate to the kids what I need them to do and getting them to respect you.” Her supervisor coached her to work on her voice. “At the beginning she was very soft spoken. But to be an educator, you have to be loud and strong. It’s one thing I try to teach even our sports coaches down here. Kids need a loud, strong voice. You don’t need to yell at them, but you need to have a good, commanding voice to take control of a class or a situation.

At the end, she wasn’t’ afraid to raise her voice if she needed to.”

Lizzie says she was on the bubble about becoming an educator. Now, she did the internship and she knows she wants to be an educator, especially with middle school kids. It is one thing she owes to City High. “They had me thinking about my future really early on. And they actually did offer this internship so I could try it out firsthand.”

DSC_6987Elizabeth Cottrell in her favorite place—the homework room

“Since middle school I knew I wanted to be a teacher. It was something people told me I’d be good at. But I didn’t want to just be fulfilling those expectations or some sort of gender stereotype. I think this internship opened my eyes to see that being an educator really is for me.”

                                                     Elizabeth Cottrell, City High Senior—Carnegie Boys & Girls Club Intern


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About the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club

Carnegie Boys & Girls Clubs is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for youth, with particular emphasis on members who live in urban communities of highly diverse cultures.

In every community, boys and girls are left to find their own recreation and companionship in the streets. An increasing number of children are at home with no adult care or supervision. Young people need to know that someone cares about them.

Boys & Girls Clubs offer that and more, implementing self-esteem, courage, and positive values through all of the educational programs, like tutoring, computer training, sports education, homework help, and mentoring.

Since 1931, Boys & Girls Clubs have been a safe place to learn and grow – all while having fun.

The Boys & Girls Club has been a mentoring partner with City High since September of 2011.


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