This time of year is always bitter sweet. I must separate from the students and families with whom I have built relationships for the past ten months, and yet those students leave me with a social and academic foundation that will facilitate their success in the future.
Those mixed feelings are particularly pronounced this year, as I’ve decided to leave the classroom and take a leadership position with Teach For America. Rather than preparing to receive a new class of four year olds this fall, I will be working to bring cohorts of new teachers to pre-k classrooms across the country as the Director of Growth and Development for TFA’s Early Childhood Education initiative. Placement sites range from Camden, New Jersey and New York City to Houston, Texas and South Dakota. Teach For America’s focus on early childhood supports our overall mission to close the achievement gap. As we select, train, and support teachers committed to laying a strong academic and social foundation during a crucial stage in their students’ development, we hope to expand those students’ opportunities for success in school and beyond.
I will certainly miss directly impacting my students with a supportive classroom culture, individualized instruction, and a print-rich classroom environment. But my success in room 114 has taught me both the incredible prospects of high quality pre-k and the need to bring more intensely driven, passionate teachers to pre-k classrooms. The TFA position affords the opportunity for me to do just that, and will expand my impact and take my passion for early childhood education to the next level.
In the end, my work is about kids and their ability to be successful in school and the larger society. I taught my class both basic skills and the ability to think and problem solve. I also instilled in them the confidence needed to take risks and, in turn, grow as learners in the future. Now, I can be part of a larger effort to ensure that life circumstances at birth do not define and limit the life prospects of children in low-income areas.
This blog has been an invaluable outlet for my own reflections and a source of growth for me as a teacher. Though I’ll no longer be writing for this blog, I look forward to reading and commenting on the experiences of the next person with that privilege. Perhaps that will be you or someone you know? As policymakers and the public continue to consider and evaluate high-quality pre-k for all, the voices of teachers are never more needed in this discourse.