I still remember standing at the podium during my high school graduation, looking out over the crowd. In that moment it struck me – the number of students ready to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas was only about half of what it had been at freshman orientation. Somewhere, over the course of four years, nearly fifty percent of my peers had given up on their education and dropped out. Growing up in Springfield, Ohio, ‘success’ was not a widespread expectation for young people. Looking back, I realize, had it not been for a few teachers who saw my potential and sparked my passion, I might not have found a love of learning and the confidence to pursue my dreams.
Although we’re a far cry from quality education being a reality for all youth in the U.S., I feel hopeful. I see educators across the country going the extra mile to realize that goal. Many teachers are incredible innovators constantly looking to push the envelope of education, shake up the system, and inspire students. They are on the front lines – they see the biggest challenges that their students face in the day to day. So when they look at what their students’ needs are, where the gap is in their education, they can start to identify how to address these needs and create a more powerful and equitable education system. Despite often having a shortage of resources, they find new ways to engage their students, craft compelling curricula, and create an ecosystem in their classrooms that promotes learning in and out of school. Read more