About Alex Morgan

Teach For America teacher (Milwaukee '11), Kalamazoo College alumnus, Democrat, and Detroiter.

Burning Questions: Tarah Jensen (Los Angeles ’12)

Tarah Jensen (Los Angeles '12) is wrapping up her first year at ICEF's View Park Prep High School.  Here she takes a time-out from teaching to master a mini-golf course.

Tarah Jensen (Los Angeles ’12) is wrapping up her first year at ICEF’s View Park Prep High School. Here she takes a time-out from teaching to master a mini-golf course.

Name: Tarah Jensen
Region and Year: Los Angeles ’12
Placement: Algebra 2

What is the funniest or strangest comment or question you’ve heard from a student?
Either “The probability of me failing this class is zero,” or “Should have had a V8.”

Burning Questions: Reuben Ogbonna (Atlanta ’12)

Reuben Ogbonna (Atlanta '12) doesn't hold back in today's Burning Questions conversation on TeacherPop!

Reuben Ogbonna (Atlanta ’12) shares how he pushes his students to be “go-getters” and his secret love of Paula Patton in today’s Burning Questions!

Name: Reuben Ogbonna
Region and Year: Atlanta ’12
Placement: 10th Grade Math

What is the funniest or strangest comment or question you’ve heard from a student?
Student: Why do you always eat all of that healthy food?
Me: I’m getting old.
Student: What? You’re not even that old. If I could, I would live off of Hot Cheetos and Takis.
Me: Even for breakfast?
Student: Yep!

Burning Questions: Haley Thompson (Nashville ’12)

Haley Thompson (Nashville '12) hanging out with Delta State University's Fighting Okra at Institute.

Haley Thompson (Nashville ’12) hanging out with Delta State University’s Fighting Okra at Institute.

Name: Haley Thompson
Region and Year: Nashville ’12
Placement: 2nd Grade

Describe Institute in five words or less.
Best time ever.

Burning Questions: Olubunmi Fashusi (Baltimore ’11)

Olubunmi Fashusi (Baltimore '11) takes time out from her busy day to answer TeacherPop's Burning Questions.

Olubunmi Fashusi (Baltimore ’11) takes time out from her day to answer our Burning Questions.

Name: Olubunmi Fashusi
Region and Year: Baltimore ’11
Placement: K-8 English to Speakers of Other Languages

Why did you join Teach For America?
I joined Teach For America because I want to help students learn. I want to be an adult in their lives who they undoubtedly know loves them and cares about them, and is someone they can always rely on.

Burning Questions: Oscar Aviles (San Antonio ’11)

Oscar Aviles (San Antonio '11) takes a break from hiking around Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Oscar Aviles (San Antonio ’11) takes a break from hiking around Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Name: Oscar Aviles
Region and Year: San Antonio ’11
Placement: 4th Grade Bilingual

Share the title and the first paragraph of your autobiography.
From Walking Paths by Oscar Aviles: “I was born on the Mesa, a tiny dot that was almost in Michoacan, but very much Tierra Caliente. I have heard many stories of that day, the day Guadalupe’s first grandson was born. I took my first breath of bright blue sky on September 13, my lucky number from that day on.”

This Week In Relationships: Leading from my story of self


What’s your story? (Photo credit: awshots)

At the end of a rough day, when the students are getting ready to board their busses, there’s always one student who can make the teacher smile. For me, that student was Waymon. He’s got a huge smile that never ceased to light up my day.  I see a lot of myself in Waymon.

By |September 11th, 2012|Your Stories|1 Comment|

This Week In Relationships: Colleagues

In it together. (Photo: namastenish, Instagram)

Last year I had a student we’ll call Mr. No Shoes. He earned this nickname from my MTLD because whenever he received a consequence, he would scream and kick off his shoes. He was an incredibly smart student, but he always managed to manipulate those around him and end up causing the most mischief. Let’s just say Mr. No Shoes is the student I always worried about at the end of the day. I felt incredibly frustrated whenever I had to talk to him about seemingly simple things like kicking another student, and incredibly sad whenever I had to ask him to leave the room because he refused to calm himself. My MTLD and I thought we were so smart; we tried every incentive and consequence we could think of to curb his behavior. Yet, we were not successful. By October, I realized we were overlooking some people who knew Mr. No Shoes much better than us.

At that point in the school year, I hadn’t solicited advice from any of my colleagues. I took what I saw from outside their classrooms and assumed they had low standards for their students and themselves. Yet, when Mr. No Shoes pulled the fire alarm early one morning and got himself suspended by our Executive Director, I was desperate for solutions. I decided to turn to anyone who would offer a suggestion. I was ready for a real conversation with my fellow teachers.

Burning Questions: Katie Brown (Milwaukee ’10)

Katie Brown (Milwaukee '10)

Katie Brown (Milwaukee ’10) is about to enter her third year at Milwaukee College Prep and reveals that she’s looking at a long-term career in education.

Name: Katie Brown
Region and Year: Milwaukee ’10
Placement: Third Grade at Milwaukee College Preparatory School

What is the funniest or strangest comment or question you’ve heard from a student?
This is a tough question, mostly because my kids say hilarious things all the time. I think my favorite though, was when one of my students called me “Sundrop.” I asked her where that came from and she told me that I look like the girl in the Sundrop commercial. She then told me that she and rest of the class decided it together. The next day during snack, one of my other students asked me if I knew how to “drop it like it’s hot” just like the girl in the Sundrop commercial. I didn’t model it for them, but some of them still call me “Sundrop” as they walk through the hallways.

What is your favorite lesson you have ever taught your students?
The lesson I most enjoyed teaching my students was a character-building lesson. I really like to make things tangible for my students, so I used an orange to help my students understand the importance of giving 100 percent of their effort 100 percent of the time. I gave each student an orange and I asked them to put their writing hand behind their back. I then asked my students to try peeling the orange with one hand. After a few minutes, I allowed them to use two hands to finish peeling their oranges. I then fostered a discussion about the activity, asking my students, “If you were hungry, would you ever use one hand instead of two?” Our discussion then moved to “If you have two hands to use, why would you ever use one?” and “If you have 100 percent to give, why would you ever give 50 percent?” This lesson completely changed my students’ outlook on their effort in the classroom during my first year.

Where do you live in Milwaukee? What’s the best part of your neighborhood?
I live borderline between downtown and the east side. The best part of my neighborhood is that it is close to everything – the Rumpus Room on Water Street is only two blocks away, Jazz in the Park at Cathedral Square is across the street and Lake Michigan is only a short walk away.

What is your favorite comfort food?
I love all food, except pickles, but my favorite comfort food is Cajun food. There is nothing a delicious bowl of gumbo and hush puppies can’t fix. Top it off with a delicious cupcake with butter cream frosting and your day will turn around.

Who is your celebrity crush and what would you do with him/her on a Friday night in Milwaukee?
Matthew Fox from Lost – he is too beautiful for words. I would take Matthew to Bosley on Brady Street for a delicious seafood dinner. Then, we would walk to Jazz in the Park and spend the early evening there listening to excellent music. Finally, we would finish our evening at the Hamilton, just past Trocadero, to enjoy a few classy cocktails to finish out our evening!

What do you do to recover when you are feeling down and don’t want to work?
When I’m feeling down, I cook a nice meal for myself and cuddle up and enjoy a good book or cheesy movie. I give myself time to mope and pout in the moment, but I always make a point to wake up the next day saying “today is a new day.”

What advice do you have for incoming corps members?
Enjoy your time with your students! They are so beautiful and kind and so eager to be loved. Remember, it is important for us to love our students, but it is just as important to take care of ourselves. Do things for yourself and take time for yourself when you need it.

What do you see yourself doing after your commitment with TFA?
I just finished my commitment to TFA, but love teaching far too much to give it up! I see myself teaching for another 5-8 years and then moving into administration. I would love to be a director of curriculum or even a principal someday!

Do you know a Corps Member who is “on fire” in your region? Email Alex Morgan at to suggest him/her for Burning Questions on TeacherPop!