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Meet 2021 Corps Member, Dominique McCord-Cotton

East End Prep, 7th Grade Social Studies- Nashville, TN  

Dominique McCord teaching in a classroom of students.

January 31, 2022

When I started my college journey, I never thought I would pursue education. I knew I wanted to help make a difference in the world, but I did not think it would be in the classroom. During college, I interned with National Freedom School Partners and developed a sense of purpose as I worked with students to improve literacy levels over the summer. The work was challenging, but the experience was worth it.

I decided to join Teach For America to continue working in my purpose of educating youth while uplifting the community. I specifically chose Teach For America because I wanted to be part of an organization that strives to create change and promote educational equity within communities of color. Teach For America's vision for the future inspired me to commit to change with a group of like minded individuals. I knew Teach For America would allow me to serve as a change agent within my community and help set the next generation up for success. 

The most valuable thing I have learned this year was to "remember my why". Teaching is not an easy job. Often as educators we assume the role of teacher, caregiver, mentor, and counselor. We teach academic standards for end of year assessments, but we are also charged with the responsibility of teaching students how to be empathetic, compassionate, productive citizens. When teaching becomes challenging (as it often does), you must constantly remind yourself of your why- why you chose this work and why you decided to impact the world through teaching...despite the challenges. This constant reminder has been one of the keys to my success in the classroom. It has helped me to stay humble, grounded, and rooted in purpose. 

As the pandemic continues, our students and families have struggled with access to internet, computers, and sometimes food during the pandemic. In addition, many families need support with tutors for their children, access to affordable after school programs, and housing. To ensure the success of our scholars, we need support from everyone in our communities. Our students are the best version of themselves when all are aligned, and they have access to resources that will support their success. 

My students have given me hope during this time. Seeing the kids when I walk into the building and their desire and willingness to learn motivates me. The students look forward to seeing their friends at school and I think for many students the physical act of getting up and going to school has given them a shared sense of purpose. As I conclude my first year as an educator, I aspire for my students to become intellectually curious. I also aim to have students who are critical thinkers who question things around them, challenge the status quo, and develop a deep sense of introspection and a love for learning.