On the morning of August 6, 2012 I had no idea the extent of the challenges I would face when being introduced to 70 seventh graders. That morning I discovered that 70 students had to be caught up on academic material on average of 3-4 years. The achievement gap was starring at me, with a huge, gaping hole and I had no idea if I would make it wider or be effective enough to close it completely. If that’s not a risk, I’m not sure what is.
Before August 2012, I had lived in the same city for 18 years of my life – Athens, GA. I learned to communicate, socialize, and was educated in this music infused atmosphere. I knew of nothing else except for the meager 116, 000 populated city. When I graduated The University of Georgia and got accepted into Teach for America, I had to move to Memphis, Tennessee to become a factor in saving the education system in one of the most dangerous cities in America. Least to say, I was petrified.
However, what drove me to take the risk was being a part of something much bigger than myself – a community of 300 other Teach for America corps members driven to save the education system in Memphis, TN. For that reason, my fears and worries were insignificant. Even though my parents, friends and mentors were not at a hands reach, I could be all of those for children who are growing up without many of those factors that are imperative for them to grow with strong roots.
The risk was not for me to move to Memphis, TN. The risk was to close the achievement gap for 70 students who were not the least bit trustworthy of a system that has failed them over and over again. The risk was and is everyday to make up for the losses they have experienced and make them trust education will bring them success in any form they believe success is. I take that risk everytime I come to school, teach a lesson, write an assignment, talk to a student, choose a book for them to read, etc. What I do has so much consequence in their lives that it does not matter what affect it takes on me. I have their lives in my hands and I must make sure that my hands are strong enough to take care of their academic and social achievement.