this thing is STARTING. not quite yet for the bay area corps, of course, but certainly for others, such as friends of mine (and many bloggers on this site) who are already knee-deep in their own inductions and institutes, answering their own 5:30 wake-up calls. (i’m sending tidal waves of encouragement y’all’s way. you can do it!)
i found out i’d been accepted to teach for america exactly seven months ago today. that seems so long ago, and yet i remember it like it happened this morning. lest the challenges and failures of my journey as a teacher cloud my memory, though, here is my letter of intent, posted publicly as a tangible (and accountability-rendering) reminder of exactly why i am enlisting in tfa’s ranks — and exactly how i MUST perform.
Pants were a bad choice. Okay, maybe not “pants” — because going out in public in your underwear is generally discouraged — but dark jeans were DEFINITELY not the smartest wardrobe selection for spending a day at Life Academy in Oakland, considering the amount of sunlight charging into Mica’s non-air-conditioned classroom. Already sweating, I stopped at one of the tables, where four students were chatting animatedly in Spanish, to see if they needed help. “Text me,” Luis said with a sly grin. “En tus sueños,” I responded with a sly grin of my own. They “ohhh!”ed (who knew the freckly white girl spoke Spanish?) as I continued perusing the classroom. Then I noticed Anthony, sitting by himself in the back of the room and looking like he wanted to be absolutely anywhere else. I sat with him for at least ten minutes, racking my liberal-artsy brain for examples that would help him understand the scientific method. Finally he just looked at me and said “I don’t wanna get it. It’s too hard.”
I seek to join Teach For America for this student and the countless like him in low-income communities throughout this country. Because the thing is, it’s not too hard. The power of education in my own life has proven to me that nothing is too hard if you’re willing to work for it, and that’s exactly what I intend to do as a corps member.
Before I spent last Friday in Oakland, I had written a well-organized, though cerebral, letter of intent. I explained why I seek to join Teach For America — to achieve justice by providing a quality education for children who desperately and disproportionately need it. I communicated what I intend to accomplish as a corps member — to set the highest possible standards and relentlessly pursue both the academic and personal empowerment of my students. And I enumerated how I will determine my success as a corps member — through the tangible results of my students’ improved test scores as well as through the development of the personal relationships I will build with them. That is all still true. Now, however, with faces to match the statistics, I can say with even more certainty that I want to teach for the student in the corner who mistakenly thinks he can’t learn, and for the pregnant teenager whose potential is as obvious as her belly, and for the son of immigrants who simply wants to feel at home. I cannot wait to work around the clock for my students, to earn their trust, and to persistently challenge them to achieve nothing short of excellence. Eliminating the education gap, for me, is a matter of conviction, but convictions are useless unless you put them into action. With a proven record of passionately enacting my convictions while growing as a leader, I am armed and ready to join the movement to end educational inequity.
Nothing, not even poorly chosen pants, can stop me.
…see you soon, san jose :)