After being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the second grade, I learned the hard way what it meant to share that piece of my identity with others. It meant constant, unsolicited opinions on the moral and medical wisdom of my Ritalin prescription. It meant starkly lower expectations for my academic work and my future. It meant people were surprised when I excelled academically, and that I worked twice as hard out of the fear that others saw me as incompetent.
At the same time that Liberty Elementary School kindergarten teacher Ms. Estes is working to become a leader in her classroom and community in Franklin, Tennessee, her students are striving to become mathematicians, letter investigators, reading experts, authors, scientists, and historians.
Ms. Estes credits her students for investing in their learning and doing their best, and coupled with their commitment to coming to school each day ready to learn, her students are carving a path toward college and setting themselves up for success.
NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep has sent along this helpful reminder that we don’t need big fancy studios to produce powerful conversations. As you know, Teach for America is partnering with StoryCorps this fall to introduce the Great Thanksgiving Listen to students and teachers. The program is expected to result in the largest collection of human voices ever gathered—and through something as simple as a shared conversation with a grandparent or elder, students will gain a deeper understanding of the world around them.
According to the folks at StoryCorps:
Joining Teach For America meant a lot for me. I wanted to change the lives of children, hopefully in a city I loved, but I also joined for me. As a single parent, I know I have to work extra hard to be the best example for my son, Isaiah. From my training at Institute through the last day of school, I have learned more about Isaiah, my students, and myself.
Every day Teach For America corps member Ms. P teaches more than science to juniors and seniors at Sunshine High School in Newbern, Alabama. She strives to bring out the very best in them through STEM activities, readings, and a host of other lessons to advance their sense of self-worth.
“My students are given far less credit than they deserve, and because they have been held to such low standards their whole lives, they have started holding themselves to those standards,” writes Ms. P. “My goal for this year has been to show them how much potential they have. I want them to see how much potential I see in them.”
“Students at Chavez Prep work hard,” writes 6th grade teacher and TFA alum Mrs. B. She isn’t overstating the case. Mrs. B’s students at Chavez Prep in Washington, D.C., complete four hours of intensive reading and math every day. To complement its rigorous coursework, the school is creating an art program to help foster its students’ creativity. Mrs. B writes:
Ms. M’s AP biology class in Denver is missing some lab equipment. The students haven’t lost or misplaced it; it doesn’t exist at all. For this high-needs school, expensive lab equipment is a luxury it can’t provide.
With DonorsChoose.org, Ms. M has launched a project to help her students explore scientific processes and deepen their understanding of biological concepts. With funds raised, she will purchase temperature, oxygen, and carbon dioxide sensors.
“Who wants to be stuck in a science class without any labs?” asks Ms. M. “My students surely don’t, and neither do I!”
It’s been a long, cold winter, and some places are still battling snow and freezing temps. Even worse, kids and their teachers have been hunkered down, snug in classrooms, for months: it’s time for outdoor recess!
For today’s DonorsChoose.org pick of the week, we’re highlighting Ms. B’s PreK class at Grant Avenue Elementary School in the Bronx. In preparation for the warm, spring weather, Ms. B is seeking to add to her class collection of outdoor toys and activities, including scarves, balls, ribbons, and sand toys.