By Meghan Smith
Starting high school is a daunting feat alone, and adding in the element of being away from home can have many new students feeling anxious about the change. As part of the experience for new 9th Graders, Tilton has deliberately crafted a space for new students to comfortably transition to the school, with enough support to last all four years.
The 9th Grade Seminar class helps students acclimate to the Tilton community and begin exploring skills and habits that can help them in and out of the classroom. While the seminar is led by experienced faculty members, it’s fellow students who, as Student Teaching Assistants (TAs) become the bridge between new 9th graders and Tilton faculty.
The opportunity to become a TA is offered to students in grades 10 through Post Graduate who are interested in being a mentor and leader for the incoming group. According to 9th Grade Seminar teacher Eliza Smith, the students who are drawn to this position are ones who have experienced the program for themselves, and quickly saw the value in the topics covered.
“I chose to be a TA to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something completely new,” explains TA Alexa Gillis ’24. “I had just taken the class and felt so grateful for the skills I learned, and when I saw an opportunity to teach those skills as well as continue to grow them, I wanted to take it.”
Student TAs step into a teaching role on day one of the class, but quickly find how far their guidance may reach. The leadership skills learned during the class apply to their lives outside of the classroom as well. “A lot of our TAs will come to me and share how they’re using the techniques they learn in their position and applying them in their every day life,” Smith explains. “As proctors, team captains, or just general community members, they are utilizing the leadership skills they learn here in their lives, and that’s exactly what you hope they do.”