By: Taryn Wilkins
Teaching Fellow, Breakthrough Houston at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center (GLEC)
Growing up with educators as parents, I have always been aware of the importance of education, but I was never fully aware of how lucky I was to have the education I did–not to mention to be able to continue that education as a current Political Science major at the illustrious Howard University.
When I first stepped onto Howard’s campus, I had this clear vision of working on the Hill, being completely immersed in politics, and going straight to law school after undergrad. Then, I went to an event that highlighted the inequities in the education system at the end of my freshman year, and that vision was no longer clear.
After reading countless articles and books on the education system, specifically the education system’s effects on children of color, it was like a fire was lit in me. I knew I wanted to teach, but I did not know for how long, and I did not know how I was going to get involved. I soon learned about Breakthrough through one of my linesisters and started to research the program. I fell in love with the mission and testimonies from other Teaching Fellows. Many of their stories resembled my linesister’s, who said her experience was “life-changing,” and I have to say she could not have been more correct.
Changes, Inside and Out
Although I am only just wrapping up Week 1 of six weeks with the students, I have learned so much about myself and about teaching. I have been able to come out of my comfort zone in ways I didn’t even know were possible until I started this amazing program. I find myself singing the cheers we do with the students to myself when I get home from work, volunteering to lead our All School Meetings (in front of all the kids and staff), and dancing and jumping around the cafeteria to get our students excited for the day like I’m a 7th grader myself.
Being a 7th grade Writing Teaching Fellow has encouraged me to be more creative than I have been in a long time. From the lesson plans to the PowerPoints to the games and stations I incorporate into my lessons, I’m learning just as much as my students are. I think that’s my favorite thing about Breakthrough Houston: the program is pouring into me just as much as I am pouring into these amazing kids.
It is not easy by any means, but being greeted by my students’ smiles every morning, and seeing their excitement when they realize they have my class first thing in the morning, makes it all worth it. I want to spend hours on my lesson plans and find cool ways to teach the topics because my students are worth it. I want to come to work a little earlier than our faculty meeting to make sure I’m ready for the day because my students are worth it. I want to stay after the school day ends making visual aids for the course because my students are worth it. I want to participate in professional development to ensure I am always willing to implement feedback in my teaching because my students are worth it.
I do not know if teaching will be a career for me, but I do know one thing: these students are already starting to change my life, and I can only hope I am doing the same for them. This short amount of time as a Teaching Fellow has already shown me I want to strive for a career in education, whether that means being on the front lines in a classroom or advocating for better educational policies on the Hill. And, I have Breakthrough Houston and these students to thank for that clarity.
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Thanks so much for supporting our mission of success for every student. We look forward to continued growth and future partnerships.