“19 people in the south side of Chicago were shot since dinnertime.” – NPR, 7 am (shootings occurred within a mile of my school)
“We drove one of our graduates up to college in Michigan yesterday. When we went to pick her up, she had 3 measly garbage bags that fit all of her worldly possessions. This is the first time she will have a bed and a house without broken windows.” – Teacher at my high school in charge of getting 100% of our students to college and supporting them there, 12:30 pm
“Success.” “Challenging.” “Purdue.” – Freshmen girls answering the question, “What one word comes to mind when you think of college?” after 1 day in high school
This is why I teach. I never knew I could be so driven, passionate, and motivated to change the world. I have seen how 4 years of an incredible education- the word “education” can’t even begin to describe how much support and love my colleagues pour out to these students and their families- can directly change a child’s life. I just finished my first week teaching freshmen; they are shaking in their uniform black shoes because we follow through with an incredible strict but supportive discipline system, but so many of them have shown how badly they want to succeed. Students taking three different public buses to receive a quality education, checking to make sure their polo is tucked in the whole way.
When a college admissions expert came to talk to the head of our charter network, they said there was no possibility of students on the south side of Chicago reaching a 21 on the ACT. He took great pleasure in informing the expert that we already had.
This year isn’t about me surviving the demands of teaching; this year is about infusing my classroom with the belief that they WILL graduate from college, and becoming an advocate for my students outside the classroom.