I couldn’t ask for a better place to celebrate Independence Day this year. The towns of the Mississippi Delta are the simplest of simples. They are America. Children play in the yards and mamas love their babies and not so baby babies with a fierce passion. People sell watermelons on the street. Everyone treats us like we are guests of honor. “We’re so happy you’re here. How is the food? Do you like it? Thank you so much for all you are doing. What exactly are you doing?” We are Teach for America and we are working to close the achievement gap here in the Mississippi Delta. We wake up at 4:45 in the morning, we gather on yellow school buses that take us an hour away to our school sites, we teach, we learn, we love. We stay in dorm rooms and eat salad, ice cream, cereal, apples over and over and over again. We stay up lesson planning until 1:00 in the morning, and then we wake up again at 4:45. We do it because we love what we do, and we love these babies and not so babies with a fierce passion.
My students are 4th graders. They are between 9 and 12 years old and have reading levels ranging from kindergarten to 8th grade. There are twenty-six of them. Twenty-six children to love by giving them the education that they deserve. And so this is America. The heart of it. And this is Teach for America – we’re doing it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever.ever.ever done in my life. But when I think about those twenty-six faces, it is so completely worth every lost hour of sleep and every tear I’ve shed for missing home.
Happy Independence Day. Be so thankful for all you have. For living in this beautiful country. For public schools. Opportunities. New friends. $1 beers. And apples.
And thank you to my sweet friend, Heather, for constantly bringing a smile to my face when I need it most. I miss everyone so much. Twelve more days til I step onto the plane and head back home. I can do it. I circled yes.