I am so proud to announce that I have joined Teach for America’s 2011 corps! After practicing law for eight years, I finally decided to shake things up in the story of my life and pursue something I find incredibly rewarding and meaningful. Starting in the fall of 2011, I will be working to eliminate the achievement gap in one of Atlanta’s schools. I am thrilled, grateful, and tremendously blessed to have this opportunity. I am also excited about sharing my experiences here with you.
Since this may be news for some of you, following is a little something that I wrote explaining why I chose to leave the law and pursue a position in Teach for America’s 2011 corps:
This year, I left my legal career to change lives.
I was a practicing attorney for eight years, primarily representing insurance companies in commercial coverage litigation. The work was demanding, challenging, and at times, very rewarding. I was fortunate to work with some of the brightest legal minds in the insurance industry. I had sophisticated clients and cases, and I was recognized as a “Rising Star” in my field. However, I decided to leave my legal career because I wanted to change lives, and after a frank examination of my life, I realized I probably would not positively impact many lives by winning lawsuits for insurance companies.
The transition started in 2007, when I read a newspaper article about an organization that pairs mentors with children affected by HIV. I knew right away I wanted to volunteer. The organization paired me with an eleven year-old girl, and I still mentor her today. Reflecting on our relationship recently, I recognized that I have been a large part of her young adult life, expanding her worldview and exposing her to new experiences throughout the last three years. She has done the same thing for me. I realized that although my time with her may not change the world, it changes her world. It changes my world.
After working with my mentee and other nonprofits, my day-to-day work as a lawyer seemed significantly less meaningful in comparison. I started dreaming of a career that would allow me to change the world for young people. I had a decision to make about the story I wanted my life to tell. Did I want a life of success and financial security in my legal career, or did I want to start over, pursuing personally meaningful work that could tremendously impact me and the lives of individuals around me?
I decided to change lives. I was particularly interested in Teach for America because I have a passion for young people, for teaching, and for breaking the cycle of unrealized potential and intergenerational poverty created by educational inequity. I believe that Teach for America allows its members to change the world for its students, exposing them to knowledge and opportunities that will empower them to thrive.
As a corps member, I hope to instill within my students an eagerness to learn and an appreciation for the value of education that would last beyond our classroom experience. I seek to inspire a respect for learning that would be strong enough to withstand future challenges. I also strive to emphasize the self worth of each individual student, so that each feels capable and deserving of pursuing his or her dreams. I consider my teaching successful if my students understood and learned presented materials, enjoyed coming to class, and were excited and challenged by the learning process. I want the materials that I teach my students to have real world application in their daily lives.
While teaching, I commit to providing excellent instruction and encouragement to my students. I am hopeful that Teach for America can be the start of a meaningful career in education. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you every step of the way.