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Five Seniors Selected as Teaching Assistants in PACE Classes; In Future Years, Perhaps an Open Application Process

As part of a pilot program, five Personal and Community Education (PACE) classes now offer Lowers another person to whom they can turn for advice – members of the Senior class. Cindy Efinger, Director of Student Activities and PACE facilitator, said, “Seniors have a different set of experiences than we as adults do. They offer a different perspective.” Deidra Willis ’09, who co-teaches a PACE class with Efinger, said, “I hope that by seeing [the Seniors] so open, [the Lowers] will feel free to voice their opinions.” Courtney Macdonald ’11 agrees that student co-teachers provide a valuable confidante who can relate to Lower experiences. “Sometimes, in a class, it feels like the teacher is judging you. But the Seniors have been through it, so they understand,” said Macdonald. Ijeoma Ejiogu ’11, a student in Efinger and Willis’ PACE class, added, “Our class is so fun, and it’s great to have a familiar face that we can come and talk to on campus.” Willis used her own memories from Life Issues, the predecessor of PACE, to help facilitate her classes. “Most memorable to me [during my Life Issues class] were the discussions…It was great to be in an environment where they actually wanted me to talk,” Willis said. “But I do remember that it felt awkward at times. That’s what I want to change.” This year, the selection of the five Senior co-teachers – Willis, Harrison Hart, Analise Saab, Michaeljit Sandhu and Zoe Weinberg – was left to individual instructors. A formal application process for the senior co-teacher position will be the next step in PACE’s development, according to Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students and Director of PACE. Hoyt said that the process will likely be similar to that of proctors and prefects. For the pilot, Hoyt said he “[trusted] the individual judgment of the faculty members who volunteered to take on a Senior co-teacher,” said Hoyt. Most of the five PACE faculty mentors chose their Senior co-teachers based on previous relationships with members of the Senior class. Efinger said, “I chose someone I felt I could work with, through the years I’ve had a very close relationship with, and someone I thought I could communicate freely with.” Four years ago, faculty members suggested the idea of incorporating Seniors into the program. Hoyt said that the chances of PACE classes being taught exclusively by Seniors are “just not practical.” The faculty and coordinators of PACE work to find a balance between involving Senior co-teachers without overburdening them. Hoyt stressed the fact that the Senior co-teachers are “not just second fiddles,” which may be a burden for the students who already have a lot of commitments. “The course is constantly evolving – I’m excited to see where this year takes us,” Efinger said.