American writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell once said that “the job of an educator is to teach students to see the vitality in themselves.” When StoryCorps Door-to-Door traveled to our nation’s capital as part of StoryCorps’ National Teacher’s Initiative, we met those very educators, the the men and women who dedicate themselves to the teaching profession and the positive impact they make on our education system. We partnered with District of Columbia Public Schools, who invited a few of its public school teachers and students to record stories of how their passion and creativity inspire young people to learn and grow in the classroom. Lisa Jones was one of those teachers.
Lisa arrived at StoryCorps with one of her former 4th-grade students, Louis Wingfield, III. Louis began the conversation describing what he was like before entering Lisa’s class. “I would describe myself as shy,” he said. “I was just waiting for a teacher that was really good. I was waiting for a chance to express myself as the real me.”
As it turned out, Lisa was the teacher Louis had been waiting for. When Lisa discovered that Louis had an uncanny ability to dance like Michael Jackson, she hinted that he should perform his moves at the school-wide assembly. “There were a lot of kids sitting there,” Louis remembered. “I got up on the stage and I looked, and I thought ‘This isn’t that bad.’ You told me ‘Don’t be nervous or afraid because you are doing what you like and you do it well.’”
Because of Lisa’s guiding hand, Louis is now a rising 6th grader with aspirations in law or medicine. He is no longer reticent to share himself with those around him. Through our National Teacher’s Initiative, StoryCorps hopes to record more stories like the one shared by Louis and Lisa and the positive effect teachers have on their students throughout the country.
Check our website this Fall for information about the official launch of the National Teacher’s Initiative.