My name is Michael Andrews. I currently teach 6 and 7th grade Humanities and Resource Support classes at the Josiah Quincy Upper School.
I grew up in Milford, a small town in Southern New Hampshire. After graduating through the public schools there, I attended Assumption College in Worcester MA. I graduated with a BA in Literature in Education in 2009. After teaching in central MA for a year, I was accepted and joined Teach for America, which brought me to Boston in 2010 – and here I’ve stayed.
What are your students working on this semester through the GC program?
This term, my students have fully embraced Generation Citizen and our Democracy Coach, Allison Kolar. Throughout the fall, my students have identified the monumental community issue of family homelessness in Massachusetts. Through guest speakers and investigation, they have learned about Bill 119, currently in committee at the state house. My class has leveraged support for this cause by creating a website, a petition, writing formal testimonies, and organizing a lobby day on December 10 to truly show their passions and make their voices heard!
Do you have 1-2 favorite moments/experiences from the GC program?
My favorite moment from Generation Citizen this year was attending the GC Tech Day Challenge at the Microsoft Center in Cambridge, MA. This event was a completely optional field trip on a Saturday where students had to commit to a full 12 hours of working with professionals in the technical fields. Here, students worked to create a variety of interactive, 21st century tools to advance their civics projects. When I arrived, I was thrilled to see almost 20 students from my class, dressed to the nines and pulling me in different directions to talk about what they had worked on. Their presentations, videos, and infographics below me away – it was as if a marketing team of adults had been working for months on the projects! To see my students so engaged in and outside of the classroom is a true testament to the power of the GC mission.
How does GC impact your students?
What I love about GC is that it has really empowered my students to make meaningful change in the world around them. When we first started this program, the class overwhelmingly felt that adults – especially those with a broad reach and power – wouldn’t care what 12 year olds had to say about the community. However, through the lessons and dedication of GC, these feelings quickly started to shift. My students drove the planning of projects. They made all of the decisions, and even pushed me to continue the planning into our regular classroom time. My students embraced the spirit behind GC, and refused to be looked at as only kids. In just a few months, I have seen a fantastic transition to strong-willed and professional students who know how to leverage their voices to make change and impact.
What recommendations do you have for future teachers considering bringing GC into their classroom?
If I had to make a recommendation to a future GC teacher, I would say – trust the process, and even more so, trust your students. It is incredible how empowered students feel and act once they have the power to make change. My quietest students found their voices – because voice is not always talking. GC works to connect every student with their strength so that the entire class feels impactful in their community.
Tell us your favorite spot in Boston
My favorite spot in Boston is the Rose Kennedy Greenway. When I first moved to Boston, I lived in the North End, so this little area always reminds me of the fun of moving to this great city. Now, my wife and I love to bring our daughter to the fountains where she runs around in the spray, while we watch all the people exploring the city. It’s also a stone’s throw away from the greatest restaurants around!