How the Dedication of My Teachers Changed My Life

by | 05.22.19

Jeremy Owoh is an educator in Arkansas. Follow him on Twitter @DrJay_06.

My students don’t always believe me when I tell them this, but I struggled with reading a lot when I was young. By the end of second grade, my school wanted to hold me back. But my teacher didn’t think I needed that. She looked at the gap between where I was and where I needed to be – and she believed I could get there. She met with my mom, and together they came up with a plan. Thanks to my teacher’s guidance, I spent the summer reading a lot and working hard, and I became a stronger reader.

When I look back, I realize that could have been the summer I started seeing myself as a failure. But because my teacher put in that extra effort, it was the summer I learned that I could reach success from where I was. When fall came, I walked into my third-grade classroom ready to excel. And I did: At the end of third grade, my school actually considered me ‘gifted.’ That’s how far I came in a single year, thanks to a single instrumental educator who saw what I was capable of.

What’s been powerful for me as an educator myself now is seeing how my students’ experiences echo my own. I’ve shared my story with my students, because I want them to know they can reach success from wherever they are. The dedication of my teachers changed the trajectory of my life. All students need what I needed: teachers who are determined to make learning accessible to every one of them. They need teachers who are adamant about equipping every one of them for whatever opportunities they want to pursue. That’s our work, as educators. If I can change the trajectory of one student’s life, my work is worth it.

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