Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ashland Grad Teaches at the Crossroads of the Blues

Upon graduating from Ashland, where she took every English class she could fit into her schedule and graduated with honors, Angie Cook joined Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta and writes:

"I teach third grade in Clarksdale, Mississippi—where all of my students live in poverty. I moved to Mississippi eager to help and learn, but I never anticipated the racial issues that still govern interactions in the Delta. As far as anyone was concerned, I was young, white, and Northern—none of which endeared me to students, parents, or co-workers. Some met me with skepticism, distrust, and even opposition. I had always considered myself sensitive and open to diversity, but this never prepared me for life in the Deep South. I have learned the power of humility, perseverance, and a bit of tough love. I understand hardships, sacrifice, and apathy in new ways. I have seen the best and the worst of public education, and still I have faith in the American dream and the potential of our poorest children. Best of all, I have won the acceptance, credibility, and respect of my new community. My students have had a positive experience with a person of a different race, socioeconomic class, and upbringing. And I have a new appreciation for the complexity of the human condition."

To learn more about Angie's experiences with Teach for America, you can read her blog here.