My experience at Teach For America’s training institute before my first year of teaching and the ongoing support and professional development I received throughout my first year as a Middle School Social Studies teacher at New Vision Academy in Nashville were instrumental in ensuring I was able to help my 5th and 6th graders succeed. 94% of my 6th grade students, and 84% of my 5th grade students SCOREd proficient or advanced on our statewide exam this past spring. The time I spent with my kids and all of the accomplishments we achieved offered me profound moments of joy. These moments deepened my conviction that educational equity, while an enormous problem, is truly solvable.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to return to our training institute in the Mississippi Delta – this time in a leadership position. I had the pleasure of supporting 60 aspiring teachers who are now beginning their first year of teaching this fall. Reflecting on the experience with my soon-to-be colleagues, it was inspiring to see the incredible amount of growth their summer school kids made over the course of five weeks. It was also amazing to see the growth they made as teachers and how their commitment to ensuring that all children receive an excellent education only grew stronger.

It wasn’t an easy route for these new teachers and it took a great deal of hard work, dedication, and commitment. It was inspiring, though, to be around so much commitment to improving education in our country and I’m energized to get to work with my new group of 6th and 7th graders this fall.