Putting Theory Into Practice: My Time at AYPF

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Tyler Gibbs, 2015 Spring Intern

I’m Tyler Gibbs, and I’ve just finished a 4-month internship at AYPF. I go to American University, have studied government and am interested in pursuing a career in education policy. AYPF has allowed me the opportunity to learn more about education policy as well as provided me the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge I have learned in my classes to projects that truly make a difference. My time at AYPF has been a great experience, and I want to share some of the things I’ve been able to learn.

My passion for education policy began when I served as the student representative on the Wachusett Regional School Committee while I was in high school. Continuing through my internships and college classes I have worked to find ways to improve our education system and with the help of AYPF I have seen ways this can be done.

I spent a good part of my time at AYPF researching and working on projects about Deeper Learning. My very first day I was tasked with reading Monica Martinez’s Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools Are Transforming Education in the Twenty-First Century to learn more about the topic. I finished the book in three days and became fascinated with Deeper Learning and how it was being implemented in schools across the country. I turned this fascination into research and helped prepare background information for a study tour to Denver, Colorado which allowed participants to see Deeper Learning in action at the Denver Center for International Studies. I later wrote a blog post about Monica Martinez’s Deeper Learning Planning Guide and learned how educators can implement Deeper Learning in their schools.

Later in my internship, I began researching the use of student surveys in the classroom with a focus on the Tripod  and 5Essentials survey. I attended an AYPF event that discussed the Tripod survey and the use of student surveys in the classroom. I was able to engage in an exciting and interesting dialogue about the topic and left the event with information from the leaders in the field, including a co-founder of Tripod and a teacher who has successfully implemented the Tripod survey in his classroom. I then helped prepare background information for a study tour to Chicago, Illinois that looked at the use of the 5Essentials survey.

Towards the end of my internship I began research on competency-based learning in afterschool. I looked at high schools that award credit to students participating in internships. I also examined the many badging programs implemented across the country as a way for students to show employers and schools they have learned a specific skill while participating in an afterschool activity.

My time at AYPF wasn’t only spent at a desk in the office. I was able to attend multiple events hosted by other organizations. These events helped to supplement my experience and broaden my knowledge of education policy. I went to an event that discussed the successes of community schools and had the opportunity to attend an event about the importance of financial literacy and to present what I learned at that event to the AYPF staff.

What I appreciate about AYPF is they bring people together and provide a forum for them to discuss a topic. Having sat in on multiple AYPF learning events, I have realized they play an integral part in improving our education system. AYPF gets the conversation started. They turn events into conversations and conversations into action.

My internship at AYPF gave me a glimpse into what my future career might be and helped grow my excitement for the future. AYPF has also helped me strengthen my interpersonal, writing, and research skills while working on topics I enjoy. Most importantly AYPF has shown me that there are a lot of people in the country that share my similar goal; to make education the great equalizer.

Tyler Gibbs is the 2015 Spring Intern at the American Youth Policy Forum.


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.