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Spotlight: Amid Covid-19 Pathways Fellow Steps Up to Help Others

Jennifer Friedlin

Jonas Casimir is always in search of a new challenge. Already equipped with an MBA and a job as a Department of Education community coordinator for students in temporary housing, Jonas joined the Pathways Fellowship last year in the hopes of transitioning to a career in teaching.

 

As part of the fellowship, Jonas was enjoying a practicum as an educator with New York Edge, teaching STEM in elementary afterschool at Community School 134 in the Bronx.

 

COVID-19 may have added additional challenges but it has not put a damper on Jonas’ enthusiasm to help, commitment to learn, and aspiration to become a teacher. In the wake of the crisis, Jonas is continuing to serve as both a community coordinator for students in temporary housing and as an afterschool educator.

 

“I wanted to be in a position to help people in times like this,” Jonas said. “I'm providing a lot of support for families, and it makes me feel like I’m supposed to be here.”

 

Although he has to maintain physical distance, Jonas has been communicating with families to let them know that laptops and tablets are available and to help them to fill out request forms. He has also connected more than 600 families with food banks.

 

Now that remote learning systems are in place, Jonas is also attending New York Edge’s online trainings and preparing to start teaching students in virtual afterschool.

 

“This is going to be a cool experience,” Jonas said. “I would've never thought I would be in this position to be able to lead a virtual training.”

 

In particular, Jonas is looking forward to leading STEM activities, a role he says he is ready for, thanks to his Pathways fellowship.

 

“Pathways taught me how to engage the group, get everyone involved, and ask good questions,” Jonas says. “I think differently now. I like to push kids to think past what they’re not usually interested in.”

 

Looking ahead to the day when the crisis is over, Jonas says he wants to continue teaching STEM. His next goal: to enter the Lehman Urban Transformational Education-Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program funded by the U.S. Department of Education to prepare and support teachers in high need schools in the Bronx.

 

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