I Teach for Change: An Opportunity to Serve

by Samantha Jones   •  

“One day, all children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.” These words, the vision of Teach For America, speak true to me each and every day in my work. I am a 2011 Memphis Teach For America Corps member and I am teaching to close the achievement gap. I am a biracial female who was blessed enough to attend excellent schools that really set me on the path to become part of such an amazing organization. What is hard to swallow is that there are millions of children, just like me, who, because of their circumstances, are unable to experience the privilege of attending school. The statistics of the achievement gap are staggering, angering, and saddening. Only 8% of children in low-income communities will graduate with a college degree by the age 24 and of the 13 million children growing up in poverty, only 50% will graduate from high school. Those that do graduate will perform, on average, at an 8th grade level. When I hear these statistics I become enraged, but at the same time I am whole-heartedly inspired. The only thing that is holding back these children is lack of opportunity. These amazing children are no different than you or I, and just like us, they deserve the best education this country has to offer. I Teach For America to make that a reality.

As a new corps member, I have just recently finished my training at Institute in Atlanta. Institute, a rigorous 5 week training program, has been humbling, rewarding and by far the most challenging experience of my life. I learned how to lesson plan, invest students, track data, behavior narrate, execute lessons and more, all while teaching for the very first time to 11 of the most amazing 5th graders you’d ever meet. In each child, I was reminded of why I Teach For America. Each one of my students were vivacious, intelligent, playful and eager to learn. I learned so much from these students and know that I, as well as my fellow corps members, will take that on with us in our first year teaching. I also have a deeper respect for hard work that teachers put  forth in each and every day. I never imagined in my wildest dreams how difficult teaching is. With balancing knowledge of content, student and family relationships, school procedures, state and national standards and so much more, a teacher has a lot on his or her plate. It takes a LOT of work to provide a child with an excellent education, and Institute has shown me a glimpse of that.

In just a few days, I will be teaching high school government and economics at a charter school here in Memphis. My classroom vision is inspired by the following words, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” -President Barack Obama. I will work tirelessly to ensure that each and every one of my students will have the knowledge and skills to become active political participants and advocates for change in their community, our country and our world. My students will know how to seek out any opportunity and know how to fight for any cause. They will be their best self-advocates. They will be on a new trajectory towards a successful life path. My students are the one’s they and we have been waiting for.

I believe deeply in Teach For America. I believe that that one day, all children truly will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education. It is up to us, as teachers to provide the knowledge and skills to get that opportunity. Change is coming and I cannot wait for that “one day.”

Samantha Jones

Intern, Be The Change Inc.

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