Meet Tessa Dean, Summer ’17 UELIP

Tessa_Dean.JPG

DCPS Office: Office of Chief of Schools, Student Academic and Athletic Support
Education: Rising Senior at Virginia Tech
Program of Study/Major: Psychology and Philosophy; Minor in Integrated Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics
Hometown: McLean, Virginia

I applied for the UELIP program after working with underprivileged children and their families in the DC area. I quickly uncovered that the people I met faced major barriers, most which were too long-standing for me to make an impact, despite my wanting desperately to help. I knew that limited education and negative life experiences were heavily correlated. It was from there that I decided to investigate the education system and learn how to better support less privileged students. I figured that being a part of one of the most innovative and proactive urban schooling districts would be a good place to start, which is how I landed here!

My project consists of analyzing the DCPS Credit Recovery and Twilight programs. These programs allow students to recover credits which are required for graduation eligibility. Right now I am looking at trends over the last few years, investigating successes and failures according to each school involved, and brainstorming ideas for improvement. I am referencing credit recovery programs all over the nation that have been proven successful. I enjoy my project because it allows me to tie in my knowledge on psychology and building trusting relationships, which in turn facilitates student buy in, increasing curriculum retention and graduation rates.

Typically, I am working on a few small projects at once. I like to switch off between tasks, because it allows me to take a step back, and perhaps look at the challenge from a different perspective. I am either emailing other teams about specific data, pulling data from our online database, reading articles about credit recovery, attending meetings, or doing other small tasks here and there. Right now I am working on a data wall, which will creatively showcase all of the data I have been analyzing. My supervisor and I are excited to see the final product.

I have never been gifted in math or science, so when I was giving the daunting tasks of using Excel and pulling data I was overwhelmed. However, I decided to approach the challenge head on, and I am so glad I did! I feel like a more well-rounded individual. It is great to be proficient in one subject, but I feel much more confident in myself knowing that I was able to learn something that I am generally not comfortable with. Although my bubble is comfortable, it is an enriching experience to step outside and see what opportunities there are for me.

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