A Postcard From: Emily Barry ’19

Name: Emily Barry
Class Year: 2019
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Madison, Wis.

Internship Placement: Education for Sustainability – Philly Project
Job Title: Education for Sustainability – Philly Intern
Location: Bryn Mawr College

What’s happening at your internship?

This summer, I’m interning on campus with Professor Victor Donnay from the mathematics and environmental studies departments. He recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to work alongside the School District of Philadelphia’s GreenFutures sustainability plan. The goal of this project is to focus on the topic of Education for Sustainability (EfS) by integrating relatable, applicable, and actionable environmental-related curricula into classrooms. To achieve this goal, we are running a pilot program with 14 teachers to implement EfS learning in hopes of inspiring students.

My role in this program is to investigate pre-existing EfS lesson plans and curricula from throughout the country to use as a resource for teachers. These lesson plans need to address certain EfS standards as well as have a certain degree of applicability to students’ lives. The hope is that students will be able to learn about current issues that affect their lives and be provided with a way to solve them. Additionally, I am helping create an environmental sustainability ecosystem – or network – of businesses, organization, informal education groups, etc., that are willing to partner and serve as advisers and supporters to teachers and this program.

Why did you apply for this internship?

Throughout the spring semester, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do this summer. One day, in my Real Analysis math class, my professor, Victor Donnay, told the class about a really cool grant and that he wanted to hire an intern for the summer, and I knew immediately that I was going to apply.

I wanted to be involved in this project because I hope to share my passion for protecting this planet with other young individuals. I feel that if we don’t teach environmental sustainability to children, we run the risk of further damaging our planet. I want to be able to help current generations so that they can help future generations appreciate and enjoy all that this planet has to offer. I hoped that by applying to this internship, I could be involved in doing just that.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

My internship has shown me a different side of education. Having always been on the receiving end, I never realized how much work teachers and administration put in. I’ve especially been surprised by how many aspects there are to the administration of education. Going into this internship, I didn’t realize how necessary it is for people to constantly be working to improve, support, and maintain the education system.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

The biggest skill I’ve learned from this internship has been how to work independently. With previous jobs and education, I’ve always had frequent interaction with professors, bosses, and peers. With this internship, I’ve had to learn how to work without them. My internship has really helped push me to make on-the-spot decisions on my own, and create a strong work ethic to maintain a consistent schedule.

This internship has also helped me develop the skills of networking and making connections. As part of my project, I have to help develop an ecosystem of supporters. This task has really helped me improve my interpersonal skills as well as learn how to maintain connections.