Malcolm Morse is a first year Teaching Fellow in Houston, Texas. I count myself lucky. I always had people around me who inspired me, people who I looked up to and admired. I participated in activities like Boy Scouts and church choir that put me around older people who were successful and hard working. I remember thinking, if this is working for them, it can work for me. But not all kids have the same opportunities and I have friends who didn’t have the same level of support, who weren’t as fortunate.
That’s why I like what we’re doing at Citizen Schools in the AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellowship. The choice to take school seriously and make it something that you can use to better your future happens at a young age. We’re here to make sure it happens for our students during those very important middle school years.
Some people might shy away from it, but I wanted to be with the 6th graders. There are definitely some tough days where the kids will push your buttons, but they are so malleable at that age. I was fortunate enough to have positive influences outside of school when I was their age but, I didn’t have any young, cool teachers who cared about me in school. That connection is important when you’re trying to get them excited about their education. Just by getting to be with them every day at school and building connections with them is doing a huge service.
As a Teaching Fellow, we have several jobs in one. We teach lessons, manage behavior, mentor, counsel, analyze data, support other teachers, and more. Now I understand and respect the plight of the teacher because there is so much work to do, but you can see the impact in small ways every day.
In the mock trial apprenticeship I helped lead in the afternoon, the students didn’t seem to be excited or ready for their mock trial event at the end of the semester. I was very discouraged and was starting to worry that they wouldn’t even show up. But when the day came, not only was every student there, but they instantly transformed into serious mature young people when they excitedly changed into their professional clothes. One student even wore a tuxedo to look like an extra sharp lawyer. They did an incredible job, and I was so proud. Moments like that make me realize that the students are growing and so am I.
A lot of people don’t take the time to do programs like AmeriCorps before they go on to pursue their careers, but there are so many reasons why they should. It does make a difference. It might not be lucrative, but it gives you a chance to do something for the love of doing it, something that really matters. You’ll grow so much during this experience and you’ll take that perspective with you when you go on to pursue the next step in your career.
At some point years down the road, at a random moment in my life, I hope that a young man or woman comes up to me and says, “Hey Mr. Morse, do you remember me?” I feel as if the ultimate reward for teachers is to see how much their students grow and succeed in life and that’s what inspires me to show up every day ready to make a positive impact.
You can make a positive impact like Malcolm by applying to be an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellowship today.