By Sabine Ellison ’21, NEWS Reporter
The past year has certainly been one of many changes, and academic programming is just one of the many aspects of the Mercersburg Academy experience that has been modified as part of the school’s Covid-19 response.
Many creative changes to academic programming have been implemented this year, the most notable being the introduction of block scheduling, in which year-long courses have been made to fit into a nine-week term, and the Winter Intensive course.
Additionally, this school year, teacher’s assistant (TA) positions have been introduced as another way to earn academic credits. While not unprecedented, the program is now more formalized and more widely offered. Students work with a class and a teacher in the capacity of an assistant instead of taking a class themselves.
Owen Ying ’21, is currently a teacher’s assistant to Kelsey Steiner for her AS Statistics class. His role includes communicating with Steiner to see how he can assist her, being familiar with the content of the course and the textbook, working with small groups of students, and providing virtual help. Ying has set up office hours and help sessions for students outside of regular classes and is working on study guides for select topics and resource pages for the AP exam.
Steiner expressed how having a TA has helped her as a teacher. “Owen has been a huge support to our class.” She says that Ying brings a unique perspective to help the students in the class because “he’s gone through a similar learning experience.”
The teacher’s assistant positions seem to be well received by the teacher’s assistants and teachers alike.
Ying thinks it is a “good idea for our school to offer TA positions,” adding that the teacher’s assistant positions provide students with an opportunity “to accomplish their desires of helping others.” Steiner echoed this sentiment, saying, “Students can experience the classroom in a whole new way and provide an extra level of support for those in the class.”
Steiner also concluded that with being online and having students scattered around the world, because Ying resides in another time zone, he is available during hours when Steiner would not be, giving a teacher a bit of relief knowing students are not waiting all day to get an answer to an important question.