Sitting in Delta State’s auditorium 1 day shy of the 1 year anniversary of me moving to the Delta, I had a lot of emotions.
Current CMs got an email a few months ago about bringing community members to Induction and to the dinner after to speak with incoming CMs. It would be a lie if I said I wasn’t nervous bringing a teacher from my school. Sometimes TFA koolaid can be a little overwhelming, but I think that they found a perfect balance for those in the audience that weren’t TFA affiliated.
I also felt a bit nostalgia, some relief, so much calmness and like laughing at the naive new CMs. Nostalgia because last summer while it was challenging, difficult and overwhelming, I was able to form some of the bonds that I still have with some of my fellow Delta 11 CMs that now live hours away. Nostalgia because I hadn’t yet been discouraged by so much that is out of my control here in the Delta. Relief that I will be getting so much more sleep than these folks this summer. Relief that I can spend my summer planning carefully to meet the needs of the class of 2025! Calmness because all of this still just feels so right. Calmness because I know my summer will be far less stressful and crazy than those that I was sitting around. Laughing because I was able to have a few conversations with new CMs whose eyes went crossed when I told them about some of my experiences and they told me.. How could you do that? That isn’t right! I will never be able to do that! And I was the same when I arrived in the Delta a year ago, but my oh my how some things can change.
My best advice to in an incoming CM is to get to know the culture, find out where you fit in that piece and teach those students to the best of your ability. Knowing the culture of the Delta and the context in which you are teaching is very important, but the easiest thing you can do is to learn it, respect it, and understand that you as one person can not change it. This culture is rich, amazing and so welcoming, embrace it, love it and appreciate it.
Shortly before leaving my house to head down to DSU, I read a post on Facebook that said that James Meredith would be speaking at the Opening of Induction. I became so excited and called my parents and a few other CMs that I knew were not sure if they wanted to go to Opening. A few months ago when we took some students to Ole Miss, they were able to learn about some of the sacrifices that Mr. Meredith made in order to get his education and they were motivated. Yesterday when I met, shook the hand of, and had a conversation with him, I was almost moved to tears. This man is still fighting everyday to fix the educational system in Mississippi and in this country.
Also during induction I was able to watch a video that was put together by TFA where people from the Delta were speaking about the dire situations in some of the areas that are not too far from where I live and teach. This was a reminder of what is really at stake for these kids. Too many of these bright, talented, amazing students are being told they will amount to nothing more than a thug that ends up in the grave or in jail is not something that I want for any Delta child, especially the ones that I just sent off to 1st grade.
It is sitting in that auditorium and I hear about the great things that are happening in the Delta that I feel, how can I ever leave here? But then I remember that many of the people that love and support me are more than 600 miles away. I am beginning to be so torn on what to do after next year. I know that no matter where it will be, I will be teaching. I have been reading up on different programs, thinking about what I personally want to do, and where my impact will be the greatest.
Working with low income students is my priority and my passion, even though it comes along with so many challenges. I am willing to do what it takes for children to get a great education no matter their zip code!