JOE LEWIS III

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What has been your experience as an educator? 

My experience as an educator has been a learning experience. This experience has consisted of not only fostering relationships with youth, as well as providing them with a quality education, but also learning the educational system from the top-down to my administration. There aren’t many days that are the same. I face new challenges every day as an educator and I’ve learned to embrace this experience.

Why is education important to you?

Education is very important to me. We live on a very complex planet that needs to be taken care of. As an adult, I now understand why adults would say “Children are the future” when I was younger. Just as adults equipped my generation with the knowledge to navigate the world as adults, we must do the same for the generation that is currently growing through our school systems.

Compare and contrast your schooling experience with that of the students you serve.

The students and I share a similar experience when it comes to schooling. As a middle school student, though I was in magnet and pre-AP programs, I attended a school that was over 80% economically disadvantaged. I can relate to the issues my students may encounter in their learning environment as well as their home environment. These are some factors that allow me to build rapport and positive relationships with students.

When I was in school, I did not see many teachers who looked like me. One of the advantages students are getting to experience today, more than my own experience, is having teachers who are more invested in their success. Teachers are evaluated more closely today than in the past and this has a positive impact on the success of the students in multiple areas.

Can you give an example of a student (not naming his or her name) whose life you’ve helped?

I had a student who had trouble with reading. When a history class requiring quite a bit of reading, he had trouble keeping up with the content. This led to the student shutting down and eventually not participating at all. I used various methods of teaching that do not always require reading, but nothing was working for him at that time.

Once the student’s grade average started to fall, he wanted to know what would be the best way to pull his grade average higher. I offered him tutorials. At first he didn’t understand how the same work, after school, would be any different. I informed him of the tutorial sessions being more relaxed, more conversational, and a less intimidating environment, knowing he would be surrounded by others who were also having trouble in the class.

After a few weeks, he started to do well in class. Towards the end of the year, during teacher appreciation week, I received a note written from this student thanking me for taking the time to help him when he needed it most. He mentioned how he couldn’t really explain it, but I made him feel more comfortable than any other adult when he has to ask for help. The note was very unexpected because I was not aware of my impact on the student until that moment. It was satisfying because I always want to be approachable to my students. Each year, I aim to make my classroom a safe learning environment where students should feel comfortable to ask questions.

Why is it important that lower income children can attend schools of choice?

It is very important because all students should have access to the same quality education. Lower income children tend to have less resources available to the compared to students who are not in low-income households. We must do what we can to close the learning gap.

BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE
BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE