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Boutros spends summer teaching at-risk kids

Nov. 7, 1997

By Mo Sadjadpour

Reporter for The Baylor Lariat

Summer is a time when some Baylor students choose to take a break from the classroom and relax. Victor Boutros decided to do something more with his summer. Instead of taking a class or just relaxing, Boutros decided he wanted to pursue his interest in teaching. He applied for an internship with Summerbridge National, a non-profit international educational institution.

'The best part of the Summerbridge program is that they selectively choose highly-motivated undergraduates to run the programs both academically and administratively,' Boutros said.

According to Boutros, the program is centered around a mixture of 'at-risk' kids as well as exceptionally gifted students united with the common thread of motivation. The program ranged from the fifth grade to the ninth grade level. Undergraduates from all over the nation submit their applications to Summerbridge for a chance to teach. According to Boutros, the application process is very long and arduous, but only to ensure that the most qualified applicants are chosen.

Boutros was accepted to Summerbridge and was given the opportunity to teach four different classes on the ninth grade level. One of the classes he taught was a task-oriented course in which students wrote on a research topic and made an oral presentation on the subject.

'I designed an interdisciplinary humanities course entitled, 'What Does It Mean To Be Human?' which included material in psychology, English literature, religion and philosophy,' Boutros said. 'Each student crafted his or her own thesis that attempted to provide insight to the question.'

In addition to attending classes, Boutros and his students designed a field trip in order to explore the conclusions they formed in the classroom.

Boutros was not only interacting with some very bright students but also a very talented staff. Undergraduates from all over the country had come to teach at Summerbridge with the intent to expand the minds of others and to learn about the educational process. Boutros and his colleagues worked an average of 10 to 15 hours a day, five days per week.

'Though we all worked a lot of hours, it was the first job in which I didn't periodically check my watch with perpetual disappointment,' Boutros said.

He also added that the program was unique in that it combined relationships with people and academic discussions in a meaningful way, and that this aspect of the program was the highlight for him.

Boutros is currently working with Dr. Michael Beaty, director of the institute for faith and learning, to bring the Summerbridge program to Waco. His future plans are to graduate in the next year with a degree in philosophy and teach at the collegiate level.

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