Relay AmeriCorps Member Spotlight: Francesca Hefiln
April 07, 2020

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to the Relay Residency.

My name is Francesca Heflin and I am a Nashville native. I graduated from John Overton High School then matriculated to Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana, where I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies. Since a young age, I have volunteered or worked with children in some capacity, from babysitting to working in childcare. Although my undergraduate degree is in Paralegal Studies, I knew that my passion was working with kids, so I continued my education and obtained a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in Curriculum and Assessment from Strayer University. This eventually led to a job with Nashville Classical Charter School in Nashville. Upon accepting the offer, I was introduced to the Relay Residency Program where I would get hands-on experience and knowledge to continue to grow into a successful teacher. I began the program in Summer of 2018 and plan to continue into the second year where I will obtain an additional Master’s Degree in Education and graduate in 2021. My professors are very hands-on in making sure that I am comfortable and able to attack the many daily tasks as a teacher. I am very glad that I chose the Relay Residency Program to continue to shape me in becoming the best teacher that I can be for my students.

What inspires you to serve your community through teaching?

The thing that inspires me to serve in my community through teaching are the children. The joy in their faces when they are learning and experiences new things, lets me know that their young minds are ready to grow.

How has the Relay Residency AmeriCorps Program helped you to become a more impactful teacher?

The Relay Residency AmeriCorps Program has helped me become a more impactful teacher in many ways. From the professors to the cohort of fellow teachers, everyone strives to be the best educator they can be for their students. The program has equipped me with the knowledge I will need in order to be a successful teacher for many years to come.

How has the Relay Residency AmeriCorps Program helped you prepare for life after graduation? What are your future plans?

The program has helped me prepare for life after graduation by making sure I succeed in life before graduation. From assisting and encouraging me with becoming fully certified to providing me the real time feedback on ways to implement different teaching strategies within the classroom. My future plans are to continue teaching at the elementary level and eventually transitioning into leadership and administration roles where I will be able to mentor young professionals, like myself, in the classroom.

Can you share a specific moment or anecdote from the classroom that exemplifies how your service makes a difference?

Being a kindergarten teacher, I know that I have a very important job in laying and creating the foundation for my students to succeed as they continue to grow. I recall one student who came into kindergarten being very scared and not wanting to be at school. Being able to see him every day, I would remind him that he is here to learn, grow his brain, and make friends. I would let them know that he is important and that I loved seeing his smiling face each day. Fast forward six months later, he comes into school every morning with the brightest smile ready to learn and he often tells me that school is his favorite place to be. This speaks volumes about the community and our school culture. I am very happy to be able to teach and learn in such an environment.

Original Source: #MadeinAmeriCorps in Tennessee Newsletter