Over the years, DREAM Legend Nicholas Feliz has served in many different roles at the organization—after ending his time as a program participant in 2016, he has served on the middle school programming staff, as a permanent substitute teacher at DREAM Mott Haven Middle School, and as an assistant flag football coach. But while all these experiences were extremely valuable, and memorable, none were as transformative for him as being a DREAM Teaching Fellow during the 2022-23 school year, a role that has now led to a full-time teaching position for him and three other fellows from DREAM’s inaugural cohort.
“It changed me internally,” says Nick, who spent his fellowship year teaching middle school social studies in Mott Haven. “Being in front of those students and knowing I could teach them something, have an effect on what they’re learning—it made me mature as a person.”
Launched in 2022, the DREAM Teaching Fellowship is a one-year, full-time paid opportunity that creates a pathway for DREAM Legends and part-time staff to become full-time teachers. This past year, Teaching Fellows worked in classrooms throughout DREAM’s network of schools. Under the guidance of mentor teachers, they received regular feedback and coaching, all while building the skills necessary to manage a classroom, lead instruction, and meaningfully engage students and families.
“My mentor teacher, Antione Boardraye, really helped me, and I liked that it was a slow-progressing process,” Nick says. “He let me observe him. Then, gradually, I stepped more into the class and led sections. Toward the end of the year, I was leading everything and driving the content.”
“Being in front of those students and knowing I could teach them something, have an effect on what they’re learning—it made me mature as a person.”
Nicholas Feliz, DREAM Mott Haven Middle School Social Studies Teacher and 2022-23 DREAM Teaching Fellow
Supported by a generous scholarship from DREAM, Teaching Fellows also work toward earning New York State teaching certification and a master’s in teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. Nick says these studies, paired with his hands-on in-classroom learning, have bolstered his confidence as a teacher.
“When you’re a Teaching Fellow, even the kids see you grow,” he adds. “I had kids coming up to me saying ‘wow, you got better in the classroom.’ Having kids tell me I’ve grown as a teacher, that really puts a smile on my face.”
Now serving as a full-time social studies teacher at DREAM Mott Haven Middle School, Nick is one of four inaugural Teaching Fellows to take on a full-time role within the network. The others include Kim Crawford (DREAM Mott Haven Elementary School), DREAM Legend Jenia Reyes (DREAM East Harlem Elementary School), and DREAM Legend Matthew Sierra (DREAM Charter High School). In his first month, Nick says he’s been laying the groundwork for the year ahead, establishing what his classroom will be like and what his expectations will be for his students. What’s more, he says earning the opportunity to become a full-time DREAM teacher has also affected his life outside of school, including helping him purchase a new home.
“The offer letter for the full-time position is what I used to get approved for the loan,” Nick says. “If I didn’t do the Teaching Fellowship, I don’t know where I would be. This opportunity is really growing me as a person.”