River Deep, Mountain High

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 31 2011

Resolving to Reconnect

I’m not the New Year’s resolution type, but in 2012, I want to revisit one of the reasons I started blogging on Teach For Us, which was to stay in touch with family, friends, and mentors from my life. Blogging has been very cathartic for me, as it relieves the pressure of having dozens of thoughts on my mind. I’ve also made numerous new connections with people engaged in the movement for educational equity and increased my understanding of the many issues involved in public education. Admittedly, I haven’t done a great job of showing that I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth since moving to the Mississippi Delta, but I vow to change that in 2012.

This blog will help. I named it: “River Deep, Mountain High” in reference to the Tina Turner (Phil Spector) classic. Among other allusions, such as teaching near the Mississippi River, it also speaks to my personal mission to lower barriers for my students so they can set and surpass high expectations.

I have posted snippets of five well-received posts from 2011 covering a variety of topics below. Please feel free to comment and let me know if you’re interested in learning more about the Delta and/or would like to support our work in this high-needs community. Wishing you the best in the New Year!

1. Still Standing (Why I Didn’t Quit):”I didn’t quit because to quit would be to admit defeat in the greater fight against educational inequality. The sooner you stop asking: “why me? What did I do to deserve this?” and, instead, start asking: “why them? What did my students do to deserve this?” the sooner you’ll regain the pragmatic mindset you need to affect real change in your community. Simply being born is not grounds for a death sentence. Our children deserve better than that.”

2. It Takes A Teacher: “It took a teacher to put me on an advanced track in the face of statistics that still predict the opposite path for a black boy. It took a teacher to reinforce my mother’s belief that I could be anything I wanted to be. Teaching is important because it takes a teacher to see the potential in a struggling student, to push a good student to become a great student, and to show genuine interest in each student. To my teachers, I say ‘thank you.’ You are important to me, just as I aim to be important to my students.”

3. If I Were the Coach, “Ed Reform” Would Not Make the Cut: “Hearing the boys talk about “the projects” and seeing the “other side” of town really drives it home for me. To see the odds these boys face daily is appalling. The fact that they can be bright, athletic, talented, and respectful and yet have such slim chances at realizing their potential ticks me off. It makes no sense that in the year 2011, there are children in America who are treated as if they are worthless. POVERTY IS NOT AN EXCUSE, but POVERTY IS A PROBLEM!”

4. Of Neutrinos and Opportunities: “Having grown up in a rural community, smaller even than the community I currently live and work in, I refuse to give up on rural Mississippi. At the same time, I have little interest in being a martyr who fights a losing battle, especially if the state is actively fighting against me. In a sense, I’m privileged because I have the option to leave.” Can we stop the opportunity brain drain?  Check out your state’s opportunity index here!

5. Sick and Tired of Being Sick And Tired: “Poverty has and is presently beating down the students we seek to serve. I worry that as my coworkers and I fight against and compensate for this unjust force, it will continue to oppress our kids and wear away at the adults as well. May we find the motivation and strength from within to keep on working against our unjust system.”

I wish you the best of luck in 2012!

Here's to 2012!

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    Remove Barriers, Raise the Bar

    Mississippi Delta
    Middle School

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