I chose to join Impact because I believe that setting high expectations, coupled with joyful rigor, will ultimately ensure students are reaching their greatest potential. I am currently a Lead Teacher in a Kindergarten classroom at Impact | Puget Sound Elementary and have witnessed what the opportunity gap and biases within school communities can do to a child’s early educational experience. For example, I have two boys in my classroom at Impact | PSE. One child who identifies as white and another who identifies as a child of color. The child who identifies as white was fluent in math, reading and writing entering Kindergarten. He recognized all of his letters and sounds and could count and recognize numbers from 0-100. The student of color entered Kindergarten performing at a different baseline. It was not until December, during Guided Reading, that I learned that both children attended the same preschool classroom setting. I was in shock. Both children were incredibly smart, eager to learn, and had supportive families who wanted what is best for their children (as all families do). What was the reason for the difference in their Kindergarten baseline performance? I took time to reflect on the actions we take as educators, both consciously and subconsciously, that affect children. I began to explore what my role was as a white female educator in a space where I predominantly teach children of color.
I decided to engage in conversation with fellow teachers about this because, ultimately, our mission is to always put children first. I quickly began to hear excuses about the student of color experiencing hardships and adversity and that those were the primary contributing factors to their performance. I became frustrated. Our goal as educators is to ensure that we recognize and honor the events our students have experienced, but never use it as an excuse from meeting or exceeding high expectations. Children should never be blamed. I truly believe in Impact’s core values, especially “Bold Ambitions,” which puts students first always, and the role it plays in ensuring we always reflect on adult practice.
I believe that all children deserve a great education, despite what they may be experiencing outside of school. Making excuses for children, especially children of color, is perpetuating systemic racism and widening the opportunity gap in Washington state. Joining Impact is my dream because I want to help close the opportunity gap in Washington and learn from a network that holds similar educational values.