Oakland Unity Middle School
Masters in Education
Teaching and Admin Credential
The first education class that I took in college was taught by a professor named Andrew Garrod. In that class I read a book that I point to as having shaped my path as an educator: Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities. This book jarred my world more than any I had read before. The injustices that seethed from the pages made me so angry––and shameful that I had not known about them before. I had to confront my own ignorance and privilege about how “the other half lives” for the first time in my life.
After putting down that book, I thought, “Well, now I know, and I can’t un-know any of these things. And I have to do something about them.” My path towards classroom teaching emerged from that experience. I think often about what it means to be a white educator of children of color. Working in Oakland forces me to reflect on the limitations of my privilege––which seems only fair given how much of my outside life does not bring me to that uncomfortable place.
I am in education because of the students. I love our kids––they make me laugh and they make me cry. When I’m working with a student, I want to know that I left it all out on the floor. I think back to times earlier in my career where I “lost” kids because I didn’t have the knowledge, skill, or understanding to give them what they needed. It’s the haunting memory of the lost ones that makes me want to do better and be better.
I’m most proud of my years as an English teacher and advisor. My former students will often say, “You were tough on me, but you loved me.” I worked hard every day for my kids and I expected their best in return. My students and I regularly achieved mutual respect by coming together and working towards something greater. There are a lot of hardworking people doing this work in Oakland and there is an atmosphere of innovation that is inspiring. People are not just trying to do the same old things and hoping for a different outcome. We’re finding a way to do right by the kids and their families.