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Full Circle From Student to Teacher

A first-year corps member shares what it's like to enter the classroom at the same middle school she attended. 

Blair Barnes, 2020 Corps Member, sitting on a bench in her graduation hat from NC A&T

August 10, 2020

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Blair Barnes, and I am a first-year teacher from Greensboro, North Carolina. Greensboro is home for me, and I love the relationships I’ve built throughout the community. I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching English language arts at Eastern Guilford Middle School, which is also where I attended middle school.

Why did you join Teach For America?

I joined Teach For America because their goals addressing educational inequity aligned with my personal goals in which I plan to address and tackle the disparities in the African American community, one system at a time. Eventually, I want to climb up the ladder to make impactful decisions that involve policy change.  

What lessons have you learned during your summer training?

Summer training was a blast! I learned how to operate in a zoom space, and how to embody Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CPR) into the classroom. 

What does DOPE leadership mean to you?

DOPE = Dynamic, Outcomes Driven, Proximate and Equity Centric.

DOPE leadership means to be the change you want to see while inviting people in and not shutting them out. Being DOPE also means you have to show up for your community and be a voice for the voiceless. It means knowing when you need to step up to the plate because you’re up next. Being DOPE is a lifestyle.

You attended the school where you will be teaching. How are you feeling about returning? What excites you most? 

I’m feeling extremely nervous about returning to my old school, but extremely excited because it’s like everything made its way full circle. It’s like paying it forward, and it’s an amazing feeling. 

Not only are you a Greensboro native, but you attended  NC A&T State University here in Greensboro. What drew you to teach in the community where you’re from

As a DOPE leader, I believe in serving the community that I know best. I’ve been volunteering in this community since high school, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love Greensboro, and I always feel that same love back when I’m out and about. 

What do you want to be true for the students whom you will begin teaching in just a few short weeks?

I want the students to be true to themselves, me, and their peers. I want the classroom to be a safe space for students to learn and grow into phenomenal people.

What is something you’re deeply grateful for right now? 

I am extremely grateful for my support system, my friends, and my family. Especially my mother since she envisioned all of this for me. She saw me graduating from A&T before I even applied to the school, and she knew in her heart that I would make a great teacher one day. Last but not least, none of this would be possible without GOD! I’m thankful for his blessings each day along with the family members who pray for me day in and day out.