STUDENTS FOR EDUCATION REFORM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CATHARINE BELLINGER ’12 IS A NEWLY-MINTED CLASSICS MAJOR WHO DRIVES TO THE WA AND WANTS TO FIX THE AMERICAN EDUCATION SYSTEM.
Name: Catharine Bellinger
Major: Woodrow Wilson School as of now, but I’m switching to Classics with Woody Woo Certificate
Hometown: Washington, DC
Eating Club/Residential College/Affiliation: Tower
In 10 words or less, what is SFER? A non-profit mobilizing the next generation of education reform leaders.
In 10 words or less, what’s up with the American education system? Unequal access to great teachers; but everywhere, pockets of success.
What is the best thing you’ve ever done at Princeton? Cheered on the senior class in the P-rade.
What makes a great teacher? A great teacher sets very specific goals for what students will actually be able to do (by the end of the lesson, the unit, the year…), then constantly checks for understanding and adjusts instruction. In practice, that means if students fail a math test, the teacher doesn’t say, “well, my students didn’t try very hard.” She says, “how can I teach these concepts better?”
What is the most promising area of education reform? Innovations in teacher preparation. Check out “Building a Better Teacher” in the New York Times. The related videos will blow your mind.
What was your favorite academic subject in third grade? Reading. My teacher used to find me under her desk with a book, hiding. I think I was probably avoiding math.
Do you believe in Santa? Of course.
Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional? Jason Kamras ’95. He was Teacher of the Year in 2005, and is now the director of human capital strategy at DC Public Schools. But more importantly, Teach For America named a photocopier after him.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton? Tower brunch on Sundays. So much gossip.
What’s your first memory? The first day of kindergarten. We played with legos. (I miss kindergarten.)
Do you know all the words to Old Nassau? Yes. The C24 OA leaders wouldn’t let us back on campus until we knew all of them.
What’s your favorite cookie? Molasses cookies from Small World.
Where was the last place you went in a car? Wa-Wa. I’m really lazy.
When was the last time you used a Post-it? At the Firestone Renovation Study Break. It was a good deal: I wrote on a Post-it, they gave me bubble tea.
Who is your arch nemesis? The achievement gap.
Where is the best place on campus? The towpath.
Where is the worst place on campus? Friend 101. No windows, no ventilation, really tiny seats.
What’s your favorite book? I love all books. But probably When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne. Or anything related to education, of course.
In 25 years, you will be… Competing in the Bananagrams world championship. That’s a thing, right?