Facilitator Yazmín Peña and I traveled to Chicago, Illinois, to visit The New Teacher Project, where we recorded stories of new and experienced teachers of Chicago Public Schools. Among our recent StoryCorps recruits was Arelys Villeda, who invited her former 8th-grade teacher, George Drase, to participate in a conversation.
To kick off their talk, George asked Arelys why she became a teacher. She smiled coyly at her former teacher and said, “I’ve always loved school supplies.”
But of course, there is more to the story than that.
Tom and Jean Gaunt recorded a StoryCorps interview in Indianapolis, Indiana, in partnership with The New Teacher Project and Indianapolis Teaching Fellows. Jean shared that teaching had been a lifelong interest she put off while raising a family. At 55 years old, though, she realized that her experience raising their children and foster children was a crucial asset in her goal of becoming a teacher.
When Jean was accepted by ITF, she worried that she would not connect with her mostly African-American, special education students. However, during her first year year in the classroom, Jean quickly learned the power of playfulness on her students.