Tracy Dunbar

Tracy Dunbar works on Teach For America’s Human Assets team. She recently relocated back to her hometown of Brooklyn,  New  York.

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This post marks National Teacher Appreciation Week.

A 22-year teaching veteran (and my former second-grade teacher), Mrs. Alice Siegel Budd is a Facebook friend to almost all of her students from the 1981 class of second graders at P.S. 273  in Brooklyn, New York.  

She regularly “talks” to us, “comments” on our statuses and still wishes us Happy Birthday! She congratulates us on a job well done and admires our families. At one point, she even tried to get us to call her by her first name, Alice. We simply refused her request, all of usshe will always be Mrs. Siegel to us.

My fondest memory of Mrs. Siegel was her standing at the board writing. She has the most amazing penmanship I had ever seen and we all wanted to write just like her. She finally promised us that if we learned all of our required material that she would teach us cursive. I WAS SO EXCITED! I think this was the day I became a lifelong learner.

I was honored to spend an afternoon talking with Mrs. Siegel to learn more about the life path that brought her to teaching.

Photo courtesy of Tracy Dunbar.

Tracy Dunbar works on Teach For America’s Human Assets team. She recently relocated back to her hometown of Brooklyn, New York.

When someone asks me where I work, I usually say I work for an “education reform non-profit organization.” But if I ask myself, “Am I an education reformer?,” my gut reaction is “No.” I have very little in common with the Joel Klein’s, Dave Levin’s and Mike Feinberg’s of the world. I do, however, have much in common with the students we are educating in low-income neighborhoods across the country.

I lived a relatively sheltered life in the housing projects of Brooklyn—a single-parent home, church every Sunday, playing outside until the streetlights came on—but I was not able to escape the realities of living in an environment of highly-concentrated poverty.

View of Boulevard Housing Projects in East New York, Brooklyn. Picture taken by Thomas Brice, Tracy’s former classmate and a professional photographer.  

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