Chantel Edwards
Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary
Sixth Grade

What factors influenced your decision to become a teacher? Identify what you consider to be your greatest contributions to and accomplishments in education. 
Many factors influenced me to become a teacher. However, my strongest recollection was the deciding factor that occurred in the third grade. It was in the third grade that I had Ms. Brown for my teacher. She was a sassy, smart, educated, beautiful, and black. She was everything I wanted to be when I grew up. Growing up in an impoverished area of the South Bronx, I didn’t get to meet many professional black people. I knew many hard-working people, but no professionals. This was also during the height of the crack era. She was the first teacher that drilled in us college was a possibility. She understood our struggles and strife’s and never made us feel belittled. She spoke our language and loved us with all her heart. It was then I knew I would be a teacher. I think my most significant contribution to teaching is the fact that I stuck with it. Last year, which also happened to be my first was a blessing and a curse. I was hired to be the ELA teacher and two months in my co-teacher quit. I was left to not only start teaching all the contents, but I also did it with two subs. It was the hardest time in my life, and there were several points where I wanted to quit. I had to do all the lesson plans and teach the subs and myself the content. We managed to make it through, and I’m still here and plan to stay. I love the education field.

Describe a project or initiative that you have led or been involved with that contributed to increasing equity in education and opportunity for students in your school. What was your role in this project and what was the impact?
I teach all contents, and genuinely love teaching them all. However, I believe the unit that defines me as a teacher occurs during the historical fiction unit. The students learn the sacrifices and mistakes people made. We read excerpts from books like Nightjohn, The Giver, The Door in the Wall, Fever 1793 and many others. They are taken back in time and love to learn about the past. They can make connections about how the past affects us today and what we can do to prevent future catastrophes. Many of my students are well below reading level; however, my goal is to pique their interest enough to get them to love learning. I want them to want to read outside of school. I want to teach them to do proper research. I want them to know that everything I teach does apply to the real world. As a teacher, I want to ensure that ALL students are given a proper education regardless of their economic status. I know poverty first hand, but I also know a student can gain a love of learning when in the right hands.