Caroline Riggenbach is a sophomore at Hesston College from Lafayette, Ind. Caroline – or Carol, to some – is majoring in elementary education. Last summer Caroline pursued an internship at Shepherd Community Center and help facilitate a summer school program for kids ages 5-18 in Indianapolis. Along with two other interns, she taught 3rd grade. “Shepherd gave me a new eyes to see the need for educational ministry in my own area,” said Riggenbach.
Q: Describe what you did as an intern with Shepherd Community Center.
A: As an intern you were expected to create and teach lesson plans for Math, Science, and Bible, sing silly camp and worship songs, encourage important virtues such as leadership, compassion, and respect, play outrageous and wacky games with your class, “Whip and Nae Nae” every morning at worship, engage in intentional relationships with the community, and above all be an example of Christ’s Love.
Q: What did you learn?
A: Not only did I gain experience as a teacher, but I learned that urban education is my passion. Shepherd’s specific location was in a high poverty-rate area and was considered the most violent neighborhood in Indianapolis. Despite coming from broken home and promises, my students never failed to make me laugh until I couldn’t breathe, remind me how much they enjoyed my company, and thank me for being their friend. They were just kids who ate too many hot Cheetos, were always up for a surprise dance party and loved playing soccer or freeze tag. Proud, happy tears filled my eyes every time one of my students offered to pray before lunch, or for a friend in need. My students taught me of the importance of fighting through adversity with the shield and power coming from Jesus Christ.
Q: What were some of the most rewarding moments of your internship?
A: I feel so blessed to be a part of such an amazing program where children see for themselves how loved, how worthy, and how important they are through Jesus. The most rewarding part of this whole experience is seeing how much these kids love Jesus and want to live for him. I am so glad I took advantage of this opportunity because it has truly affirmed my love and passion for urban education. I was able to take situations I dealt with this summer and apply them to what we are learning in my education classes here at Hesston.
Q: Why would you recommend this internship to someone?
A: If you are an education major, ministry major, or just enjoy working with students and families definitely take advantage of this opportunity. There is an application and phone interview process. If students are interested and want more information come talk to me or Kevin Wilder. I promise you that you will learn so much about your crazy, cool kids, and even more about yourself and your own passions.
Q: How will it help you for your future career?
A: After Hesston I plan to finish up my Bachelor’s at a university (still undecided) and graduate with a degree in Elementary Education. I hope to then teach in an urban school district and continue the often times silent ministry that goes with public schools as church and state do not mix. Eventually I dream of running my own community center that works with kids, families, and Jesus!