(Excerpt from Keeping Score, the precursor story to Capturing Captain America)
Dear Members of the Selection Committee:
My intention to join Teach for America stems from a strong desire to be part of the education system in the United States. After having enjoyed a first career in hospitality I came to the conclusion that I needed a mission driven professional life. When I moved to Los Angeles to begin college I immediately researched Teach for America and decided that once I completed my undergraduate degree I would apply to join the program,. If accepted I hope to accomplish a measurable improvement in student of standardized test scores in math. On my application I indicated an interest in early childhood education or math and science. Whatever and wherever I find myself my intention is to be able to make a noticeable difference in how students learn, enjoy learning, and are able to be successful on their tests. Numbers play such a pivotal and life altering role in whether people find a place in society or not. Grades determine which middle and high schools we go to and if and where we go to college. Schools make the difference. Our transcript may be our destiny but they do not necessarily reflect potential. That is the tragedy.
The world is technology dependant and driven on the latest gadgets we cannot live without. It is no secret that economies that survive in the challenging 21st century world of global economics are those with knowledge rich populations. The Internet revolution and e-commerce demand a highly skilled workforce. The digital divide begins by whether or not a child is able to access technology or can comprehend learning in a computerized classroom. Kids without the means to have a laptop or are ignored in math class are early risks of ending up as adults without a place in the workforce. Or at least a chance in reaching a potential and being gainfully employed in a knowledge driven technology dependant economy. My hope as a member of Teach for America is that students gain a chance to learn the foundational skills needed to become a productive member of society as they progress through the educational system.
I would determine my success based on the scores of my students over time. I would also gage my success based on class attendance, parental involvement, and overall emotional health of students. Intelligence on paper is only half the equation in measuring success. Seeing my students socially comfortable, displaying signs of healthy self esteem, and being able to relate with their peers would be a significant sign of my success as a teacher.