This Is the Place for Me
Brittaney Boyd '16
What led you to Teach For America?
In 2011, when I was in 11th grade, I hated school. But I loved one teacher—and he was from Teach For America. He saw a lot of potential in me. He pulled out a lot of things that I knew were there, but that I never really tapped into. Having someone bring that out of you, it makes a huge difference. After he told me how he got to Mississippi, and what he was doing, I went online and looked it up Teach For America—I was like, “Man, this is the place for me.”
Five years later, when I applied to Teach For America, I was so excited. I thought I might teach in Jackson [where I went to college]. But I came home and visited my old schools, and I thought, “Okay, you have the opportunity to give back to the community that nurtured you and raised you. Why not do it?” People told me, “You’ll be perfect—you’re from Greenwood, you know the community.” And I said, “You know what? I’m going home.”
Why should people consider becoming educators?
It's the best option for a career—I don’t what type of doctor you are, or how much money you make as a nurse. Nobody makes a bigger impact in the world that a teacher. And—on a more personal level—in my experience, no teacher can make a bigger impact than one that been trained by Teach For America.
What’s your vision for your classroom?
I want my students to grow, and not just academically. I want them to grow as community figures—I want them to understand the impact that they can have. And not from me telling them, but from actually seeing their own potential, from knowing they’ve reached the best of their abilities.
What's been your favorite moment so far?
My “exit paragraphs” at the end of the first nine weeks. Every single one of my students said the same thing: “I love Ms. Boyd because she makes us want to come to school and get an education.”
What are you going to do after your initial two-year commitment?
I’ll still be teaching. I want to open a school within seven to five years. In order to that I know I need to have experience. So I want to teach again for that third year, and then move into an assistant administrative position, and then hopefully my own administrative position. Once I get there, I'll start looking for ways to charter my own school.
How did your goals become so clear at a young age?
For so long public education has been talked about—and been criticized. “Funding is too low.” “Funding is not being used for the right purposes.” It all makes me want to have a school where I can monitor kids’ progress, and know they’re receiving the best of the best—not just whatever the state’s bar is, but genuine, passionate teachers, who want to provide a very needed education.
What advice do you have for new teachers?
Be ready. It's real. When I found out I was teaching fifth and sixth grade, I was like, “Oh, fifth and sixth grade, piece of cake.” But this is the hardest job. Expect the unexpected; go in with an open mind. Both you and your kids are going to learn so much.