Alli Green - Non-Profit & Social Change
Q&A with Sage Paquette-Cohen, Tikkun Olam Alumna
Sage Paquette-Cohen has always wanted to make a difference. Inspired by the mission of Masa Israel, Sage traveled to Tel Aviv for 10 months after graduating from Emerson College. Through Tikkun Olam Tel Aviv-Yafo, she interned at a pre-school for children with disabilities that focused on serving Arab and Jewish Israeli students equally from a young age. Working with her students fueled Sage’s passion to end social inequities. After coming home to the U.S., Sage joined the 2016 Teach For America Greater New Orleans corps as a high school special education teacher. Because of her experiences leading and teaching in Israel, Sage came into the classroom ready to lead with confidence.
Q & A:
Q: I’d love to hear more about your path to Teach For America. How did you decide to join Masa Israel? And what was your path to Teach For America?
A: I wasn’t super religious, so going to Israel didn’t immediately occur to me. However, TIkkun Olam is one of Masa’s more liberal and politically motivated organizations, which aligned with what I wanted to do. I started applying to TFA during my time in Israel. I had friends going to grad school, but I couldn’t go back to studying or sitting in a library after doing this work for communities in need. I was working in an incredible classroom that served the students so profoundly, and I wanted to continue that impact in an underserved American school.
Q: How have your personal life experiences shaped your career path?
A: I started out wanting to work in healthcare. In college, I worked in a Speech and Hearing Clinic on campus with three and four-year-olds. Through that experience, my love for working with children with special needs blossomed. I was able to build relationships and assure families that their kids could have a future they had never imagined.
Q: How did you grow personally and professionally through your service with Masa Israel?
A: I had just graduated from college and moved to a country on my own. My only choice was to grow up quickly. I learned about global issues that had never occurred to me living in Maine or Boston. The experience forced me to think a lot about the race, class, and equity issues that exist in the U.S.
Q: How did your service with Masa Israel prepare you to be a leader with Teach For America?
A: Being in Israel forced me out of my comfort zone and set me up to be prepared for that in the future. I was often the only white person and English speaker in a room. I don’t think I would have been as prepared to enter a classroom before my experience in Israel.
Q: What has been your biggest inspiration to continue in the fight to end educational inequity?
A: I taught two four-year old Arab boys in Israel who had severe disabilities. They made a lot of progress in the 10 months I worked with them. They were both from very poor backgrounds, and because of their minority status in Israel, would not have received those services from such a young age if they lived in a lot of communities that TFA serves. It dawned on me quickly that the need in the U.S. is so severe. Those boys were able to shine, but it was because they were given a chance.
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