Teaching Assistant Madison Butchko shares her perspectives (Part 1)

From Classrooms to Change

The importance of education and educators

by Madison Butchko

Madison Butchko in first-grade
Madison in first-grade

Classrooms weren’t just places of learning for me; they were my second home. With both my parents as teachers, I’ve been immersed in the world of teaching from the very beginning. After my elementary school day ended, while my parents were still working, I’d settle into the back of my mom’s classroom. There, I’d read, fold origami from printer paper, or attempt redecorating her classroom. What I loved most was writing fun messages and doodling cute animals on the whiteboard.

For middle school, I attended the same school where both my parents taught. If you thought you were awkward during those years, let’s just say I redefined awkwardness— my parents can vouch for that. Growing up in the classroom also meant that I witnessed firsthand the profound impact teachers can have on their students beyond academics. Observing my parents staying late to help and prepare classes, I realized the care teachers invest in nurturing students to reach their full potential. Effective educators regard each student as capable of success and deserving of support.

Madison’s high school graduation
Madison’s high school graduation

My parents’ dedication to supporting students inspired me to join the Global Teaching Project. As a student, I understand the challenges of education and the crucial role of resources. Coming from a large public high school, I faced limited access to extensive test preparation or robust pre-college programs, especially when it came to understanding competitive college admissions. However, during my junior year, I devoted countless hours to researching the complex requirements for the Ivy League and other top universities. Taking a leap of faith, I applied to leading East Coast colleges and was fortunate to be accepted to quite a few, ultimately choosing Yale.

My experiences highlight the importance of information access for future opportunities. I believe every student can learn effectively and succeed. However, fulfilling this potential requires not only talent and hardwork, but also access to necessary tools. My aim is to narrow this gap by using my knowledge to help students access resources needed for academic success. Through mentoring and empowering students, I value creating an equitable academic environment where every student thrives, irrespective of their circumstances.

Madison at the Yale Art Gallery
Madison at the Yale Art Gallery

Being an AP Physics Teaching Assistant reflects my commitment to equitable education. My work with the Global Teaching Project extends beyond teaching the AP material. I prioritize building relationships with students— inspiring them to pursue higher education and STEM degrees. During the weekly classes, I engage with students and educators from under-funded schools, building community and forging friendships. By sharing my experiences, I demonstrate how they too can access quality education and open doors to top colleges. Witnessing my students’ growth and sharing insights from my college experience at Yale with them is immensely rewarding. Despite the challenges of AP classes, I create interactive lessons to make AP STEM courses more accessible and understandable. Ultimately, the Global Teaching Project serves as a link that connects students with needed educational resources. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve and teach here.

Classes are not just places of learning; they mark the beginning of lifelong growth and opportunity. I summarize the value of education through a simple question: Does education inherently make someone a better person? My direct answer is no. Education alone doesn’t automatically transform someone’s character or life. However, it presents individuals with the opportunity to improve. Education empowers students by revealing their potential to change their trajectory. Without awareness of these options, individuals cannot alter their current circumstances or even aspire to greater dreams. Educators are crucial in guiding students toward improvement and goal achievement. While education doesn’t guarantee personal growth, it provides every person with the choice to be better. Believing in education is synonymous with believing in a brighter future— one that every student deserves.