Fields passionate about teaching and service

Jacob Fields always knew he wanted to be a teacher, but it was his educational psychology course at Cornell College that helped him decide that elementary school was his niche. He spent hours observing a first-grade classroom, and the energy those students had inspired him.

Jacob Fields ’14 is going to be part of Teach for America, working in a low-income school in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Jacob Fields ’14 is going to be part of Teach for America, working in a low-income school in Brooklyn, N.Y.

After graduation, Fields, who’s from Huntington Station, N.Y., will teach at an elementary charter school in Brooklyn, N.Y., as part of Teach for America. The combination of younger children and the low-income area the school draws from have him excited, because he’ll be addressing one of his passions—educational inequality. In fact, that’s why he chose to take part in Teach for America.

“In low-income schools you can have a big impact,” he said, “and Teach for America put me in a place where the schools need teachers.”

This won’t be his first experience with addressing educational inequality, nor with Teach for America. This year he developed a book exchange program for schools in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City as part of a fellowship with Teach for America. It was a success, and will be continued by Cornell’s Civic Engagement Office in the future.

Fields spent much of his undergraduate career working with that office. He was involved with the college’s Lunch Buddies program and he took part in the Iowa College AmeriCorps Program, where he performed more than 300 hours of community service this year. And for all four years at Cornell, he was involved with Relay for Life, spending his senior year as co-coordinator and running a mile for every dollar he raised for cancer research—more than 2,000 miles in all.

None of that could have been done without a lot of support from his friends. “They are always pushing me to become a better person, and are always there to help me with a project I take on no matter how crazy or tough it will be—like organizing 3,000 books for my book program,” he said. “I think it is all of the people at Cornell that make it such a special place.”

He will start teaching summer school in June, as part of Teach for America’s training program. He already has experience in a classroom, though, as a student teacher at Washington Elementary School in Mount Vernon. And, he said, even before that, the education faculty, including Professor Emerita Gayle Luck and Professor Kerry Bostwick, along with his mentor teacher Robin Brand from his student-teaching experience, made him feel ready to manage a classroom.

“The faculty and my mentors helped me put my ideas into action in the classroom, and they helped me improve” he said.

That taught him what he wants to do when he’s teaching himself—push the students and have them hold themselves to high standards.

“Being able to get students to push themselves is so rewarding,” he said.