The Site Director: A Fellow’s Best Friend

May 14, 2019

Saga Fellows are fresh out of summer training and starting their first day of school.

For Fellows embarking on a 10-month assignment to tutor at-risk students, the Saga Site Director is an invaluable source of support, feedback and guidance. Site Directors utilize the core concepts and language used during training to refine and develop each Fellow throughout the entire year so that they can rise to become incredible instructors.

To better understand this relationship, I spoke to Nicole Prahin, a Saga Site Director at a Chicago high school, to get her take on what Site Directors provide for Saga Fellows. (Note: Nicole became the Senior Director of Programs in Chicago as of July 2018).

So what exactly are Site Directors and what do they do?

My job is to set up my Saga Fellows for success. That means I’m in the classroom with them, providing daily feedback, support, and resources they need to best serve our students.

I also am the liaison between the Saga program and the school where we tutor. I build relationships with school staff and admin, and collaborate with the math department to ensure we are properly aligning our curriculum and focusing on student growth and success.

Ultimately, all of this means my Fellows can solely focus on the most important part of our work: the student in front of them.

What kind of feedback do you provide for Saga Fellows?

It could be feedback on effective instructional strategies, student engagement techniques, lesson planning, or overall suggestions on how to improve the execution of a particular lesson or concept.

When observing a tutorial, I often focus on what the students are doing and then I do the math myself as if I were a student too. Sometimes it’s helpful for the Fellow to have an extra set of eyes and ears so we can jointly discuss how to personalize instruction to fit a student’s learning style or address a specific misunderstanding that arose.

Who are Site Directors – what kind of background do they have?

That’s not an easy question! We are a diverse group and come from a variety of different backgrounds and experience – just check our bios! Most of us have been classroom teachers, but the true common thread is that we all believe that strong relationships coupled with personalized instruction can transform a student’s life. We have seen the effects of this first hand and are committed to constantly improving our model and methods to ensure that as many students as possible have access to such an amazing opportunity.

What’s your relationship with your Fellows like?

As a Site Director, I spend 8 hours a day in the same small classroom with my Fellows for an entire year. When you do the math, this means you get to know each other pretty well!

Given both the challenging and rewarding nature of our work, you inevitably see everyone experience both highs and lows which I think uniquely bonds the team together and distinguishes the Fellowship from other work or professional experiences.

I am honored to come to work each day and be surrounded by people who are committed to making a difference. The relationships that our Fellows develop as a team and with their students blow me away each day and keep me energized and focused on the larger mission at hand.

What’s the one thing you’d say to someone thinking about becoming a Saga Fellow.

While you’re here helping change the lives of 14 students over the course of the year, this program will also change your life. The learning curve is amazing. The sense of camaraderie and mission is something you don’t find in most jobs. And through it all, I’ll be here to help you, support you and learn with you. Basically, when you’re a Saga Fellow, I’ve got your back.