I recently saw an inspiring TED talk by Rita Pierson, a teacher from the US who talked about ‘every kid needs a champion’. It was a talk full of honesty about the challenges of teaching. It really gave an insight into being a teacher and the passion required. It is not a job you can turn up to 9 to 5. It is a life mission.
I then got onto watching a video by Melissa Perez who grew up in ‘The Bronx’, New York City. Melissa did not ‘get’ school; she wasn’t motivated and in her eyes had no ‘why’ for turning up. Then aged 17, Melissa became a mother and this changed everything. She suddenly had a ‘why’ which was creating a future for her daughter. In the video, Melissa also talked about her Math teacher Thelma who believed in her and inspired her to believe in herself.
Melissa went from being a high school drop out, to the first person in her family to graduate from high school. This was the same person who not long before had been completed disconnected from education. The one difference was she found her ‘why’.
The video really got me thinking about the young people who are struggling with their why and the power teachers have in inspiring young people, teachers like Thelma and Rita. Sadly Rita passed away however no doubt her legacy will be great. ‘Changing kids lives’ – this was Rita’s ‘why’.