MTC '18 Spotlight: Zach Borenstein
NAME: ZACH BORENSTEIN
COLLEGE: GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
PLACEMENT: SIMMONS HIGH SCHOOL (HOLLANDALE, MS)
1. What made you want to join the Mississippi Teacher Corps?
For a long time, I've known I wanted to be a teacher, but I wanted to wait until I felt ready to give my first foray into the field the time, effort, and dedication it merited. When sitting down last fall to apply to alternative teaching programs, I stumbled across MTC; I admit that the free Masters was enticing, but I also just had a gut feeling that this was what I needed to do. I love to travel and experience new cultures, and it seemed that, given teacher shortages in the area, I could be useful right away. I struggled mightily with the decision of again moving so far away from friends and family -- and even stressed MTC out by reversing my decision twice! -- but ultimately I made the right one.
2. How has your transition from the East Coast to the Deep South been?
Tough. But rewarding. MTC made the transition as seamless as it could be, and being with other young people from around the country, including many that straddle the cultural divide, helped ease me into a new world. I use "finna" and "y'all" pretty regularly now, so I'd say it's going pretty well.
3. What is Hollandale, MS like?
I love Hollandale because of my personal relationship to it, being able to integrate into a place that has a lot of love, and participate in an athletics program that is rather intense but also has the passionate support of the community. That said, many buildings in the center of town are abandoned, the population is steadily dropping, and I know life can be quite difficult for many of the inhabitants of the town. Still, there is much to be learned and admired for how everyone treats each other as family and works to make sure teachers, students, and their families feel included in the school district.
4. You're also one of the basketball coaches at your school. Please talk about how that experience has helped you as a classroom teacher.
If anyone is thinking of becoming a coach, please know, it requires an incredible time commitment. I coach the B team and help out with the varsity program, and I fight as hard as I can to earn the respect of my players and coworkers, and it is definitely a process. With the season almost over, I am glad I did it, but I am pretty exhausted. That said, I learned a lot about the culture and the subconscious ways people communicate with each other. Furthermore, I think athletics pulls a tenacity out of me that propels me to persevere through difficult days in the classroom and on the court. I care about my players and I think many strong relationships have formed that have translated into better classroom management and more buy-in to my classroom. The Simmons community values sports a great deal, so by participating, I think I can show an appreciation for the culture while spending time with the kids doing something that they want to do and feel that they are good at. At the same time, I never take for granted that just because I put in this time means I deserve greater respect. I just try to do the right thing as much as possible and not get cranky (because, like I said, man I'm tired).