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How I Grew in My First Year as a Corps Member

As a first-year Teach For America Miami-Dade corps member, Austin Carey knew he signed up to help students become their best selves. What he didn't realize was how much of an impact they would have on his own personal growth.

Austin Carey (Miami-Dade '18)

By Austin Carey

March 13, 2019

I still sit in awe as I am driving home from my placement school at the fact that I am an educator.

Somehow destiny decided to place me on the front lines along with many other school teachers across this country to be of service and assist in the cultivation of the minds that will someday transition into thriving agents of change in the world we live in.

Accepting this charge to exist in Room 35 as a 5th grade reading and writing teacher has been one of the most professionally challenging things I have done in my time of this earth. The beauty of this whole experience is that I am given endless opportunities to grow and take strides towards becoming the best professional I can be.

When the school year started, I decided that the overarching theme of my first year in the classroom would be growth. I longed to grow in a variety of aspects of my life. I must say that I have done just that. I am not the same person I was when I showed up on the first day of school. I have been pushed far out of my comfort zone.

I graduated from college in May from the HBCU Paul Quinn College and started on my journey to Miami to see what the field of education would be like. I thought to myself, ‘Why not? You love to learn so teaching should not be anything unbearable.’ Little did I know, I would be pressed and pulled from every angle.

More times than not, I felt like the pressure was too much to handle. There have been days where I would run to my car on my lunch break, lay in the backseat, and shed a river of tears. That was the only way I knew how to handle the many things that were going on all at one time.

I would ask myself, ‘Am I being effective? Do my students like me? Am I as good as the other teachers on campus?’ As I look back and reflect, I have realized that it was those low moments that have continued to propel me towards the growth I sought after to begin with. It was in those moments when I had to pick myself off of the ground, wipe my tears, and continue to show up.

“The irony of it all is that my 5th grade teacher was a Teach For America corps member and left a huge impact on my life.”

Austin Carey

5th Grade Teacher, Charles Drew K-8

Miami-Dade Corps Member 2018

My students have taught me an array of lessons and I will be forever grateful to have encountered this first set of students. They have challenged me more than ever to continue to learn.

As their teacher, I serve as a model of what learning looks like. I must remain open to new ideas and composed due to the fact that I never know what a day in Room 35 holds for us. I need them just as much as they need me, and I realize the importance education has on the generations to come.

The irony of it all is that my 5th grade teacher was a Teach For America corps member and left a huge impact on my life. It did not stop with her either. I encountered so many teachers who expanded my mind in immeasurable ways. They planted seeds that are continuing to be watered by the rainy days and fed by the sunny days of life. I know, as times passes, I will continue to grow and blossom into the individual I have been called to be.

Interested in getting involved with Teach For America Miami-Dade? You can sign up to support teachers like Austin in a variety of ways. Click here to learn more!