For the past two summers, St. Stephen’s has offered intensive summer coursework to elementary and middle school students in conjunction with U-Prep, a non-profit organization that pairs academically challenging private schools with students from lower-performing school environments. The focus on these summer sessions is to increase Math and Language Arts critical thinking skills. The goal is to be able to award scholarships to those students who would be a good match for the school with a financial need.
This year, St. Stephen’s high school alumnus, Teddi Utley, class of 2015, returned to campus to help our Middle School Math and Science Lead teacher Jamie Shick teach a U-Prep summer intensive to six elementary and middle school students for a month. Teddi, now a sophomore at Texas Southern University, discusses the experience of being UPrep summer teacher, a former U-Prep student, and a St. Stephen’s alumnus.
My name is Teddi Utley, and I graduated from St. Stephen’s in 2015. I began SSESH in August of 2010 as a freshman. Some of the qualities that I gained through U-Prep such as dependability, cooperation, punctuality, leadership, and speaking up helped me tremendously though my 4 years at St. Stephens. One of the objectives of U-Prep is betting our education to help uplift and help our community. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. Being a teacher meant more than being able to help children learn, to me being a teacher is the opportunity to spread one’s love for education and knowledge. Although the Montrose area is not my initial community where I grew up, it soon became my newfound community thanks to St. Stephen's.
Having a four-year scholarship to St. Stephen's gave me more then an education. I gained confidence, the ability to think critically, the opportunity to question the things I was learning, lifetime friends, as well as numerous networking opportunities. The door at St. Stephen's remained open even after I graduated. This allowed me to go back and teach Language arts over the summer to sixth and seventh graders. The students were U-Prep students seeking a scholarship to attend St. Stephen's as I did 8 years ago. Just as Ms. Berger and Mr. Benson (the leaders of U-Prep) saw something in me, I saw the opportunity for greatness in them. I did not only want them to have the U-Prep experience that I had, but also the St. Stephen's experience as well.
Although teaching sixth and seventh graders after only my first year of college proved to be challenging, it was possible through the skills I gained from both St. Stephens and U-Prep. Having the opportunity to lead students to a school that gives more than just an education, justified all of the hard work facing me in my next two and a half years of college.