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This is Where I Wanted and Needed to Be

Kadeem Gill (New York '11) shares what led him to TFA and why he remains committed to the movement for educational equity, on our TFA-NY Alumni Association Blog: Education, Together.

By Kadeem Gill

May 4, 2018

We want to wish Teach For America New York corps members and alumni teachers a Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Thank you for all you do to support this New York City kids! With an alumni network of more than 5,400, we have to be strategic and deliberate in insuring our members remain connected to each other and to the organization, especially our nearly 2,000 alumni who are still on the front lines as teachers. Some of our alumni are in third year of teaching, while others are in their 20th!

Do you remember what first led you to TFA? I remember the day I received an offer to join the 2011 New York corps. I read the email on a warm, sunny day outside of my campus’ dining hall. My entire life, I wanted to be a lawyer, but something changed when my brother was killed my sophomore year. I decided to join Teach For America as a way of giving back, and to ground myself by pouring my support, curiosity, and compassion into others.

At the end of my second year of teaching, I was accepted to law school, but every time I reflected on teaching my students, I realized that this is where I wanted and needed to be, proactively supporting the students, like my brother, who live in neighborhoods where the echo of gunshots replace childhood nursery rhymes. I also wanted to be there for the students like my brother’s killer. He is a young man who could barely write or read aloud his court statement. It came out in incoherent sentence fragments which roughly painted my brother’s last moments. Teach For America New York continues to support me to realize and visualize myself in this role.

As a corps member, my TFA manager of Teacher Leadership & Development, Megan Bird, helped me understand that I can choose to do anything for my students but it’s impossible to do everything. I can’t hold all the spokes of the wheel. Megan’s taught me to push towards understanding how the whole wheel works so that I could have a broader impact.

Today, I work in a school that was founded by a TFA alumnus, alongside many other TFA alumni, including the Middle School Director and both of my co-teachers. At this school, collaboration is strongly encouraged. Our leadership understands that the whole is greater than the sum. I joined the TFA-NY Alumni Association because I believe in the power of this organization to transform education in this city. But that can’t happen without YOU. Your voice, your feedback, your truth, your perspective. We truly thank you for your ongoing support and your hard work to make “One Day” true for students across America.