Saturday, May 05, 2007

My MTC Experience

My MTC experience has been a challenging and rewarding one. I think that when I get old I’ll look back on these two years and realize how they helped me define who I want to be. When I entered MTC, I don’t really think I completely knew what I was getting myself into. By both taking classes and teaching them, I have been surrounded by very intelligent people, and people who motivate me. Both my classmates and my students inspire me to treat each day like the blessing it is, and to do what I can for those who surround me.
Before MTC, I knew that I wanted to find a career about which I was passionate. I had yet to clearly define that path, but I knew that my three loves were literature, languages, and music. By entering MTC, I have been able to make literature and languages the basis of my everyday work. I love the opportunity to wake up everyday and do what I love. Even though I haven’t been as involved with music as much as I would like, my two years have been enjoyable.
By becoming a teacher I have been able to do a job that matters. Even though I don’t reach every student at all times, I know that I am making a difference. My students give me a reason to continue in education, because they show me that they are learning, and that they are willing to invest in their own futures. I have had the chance to see life through the eyes of my students.
In addition, I have been in classes with one of the most unique groups of people I have ever met. Our class has proven to be a creative, hardworking, fun-loving group. We will have many stories to tell when we come back years from now. We will never forget Reggie’s questions, Jake’s love for wearing suit and tie, or the swim party on my birthday (if you don’t know, don’t ask). We will also never forget a “Platinum” night in Memphis (again, if you don’t know, don’t ask) or the daily rides to Holly Springs. And who could forget ultimate Frisbee in Mississippi’s summer heat and humidity (it’s not the heat that gets you, it’s the humidity).
I guess we have a lot of stuff to remember even outside of the classroom. For some people, this was probably a chance to live in a different part of the U.S., so their experiences are completely different. For me, it was a chance to learn a lot about my own state. I learned that laws don’t always translate into the perfect society they’re supposed create. Even though we have laws to protect our system of public education, many public schools continue to suffer. MTC has allowed me to become part of the solution to these problems. I know our program won’t fix all of the problems, but it is a start.
MTC has given us the opportunity to get out of our comfort zones. I attended good public schools, but by teaching in critical-needs schools I have dealt with everything from fights to drugs in my classroom. I now know why people complain about the state of public schools. I have seen first-hand the problems of students in the rural Mississippi Delta and the urban city of Jackson. I definitely think I’ve seen it all.
Through MTC I’ve also finally been able to close a chapter of my life—that of the college experience. Because of this, I’m glad MTC is a part of the University of Mississippi. Even though I’ll probably eventually go back to a university for my Ph.D., I got the chance to be a student one more time. I’ve soaked up the good and the bad that Ole Miss offers one last time. I find that Ole Miss is symbolic of my feelings about Mississippi. Dr. Mullins said, “Mississippi is a funny place; we learn to love it in spite of itself.” Well, I feel the same way about Ole Miss. I love that it feels like home. I love the football. I love the beautiful campus. I love a lot of things about it. However, there are some things that make me wonder if Ole Miss, like Mississippi, will ever fully change. Within my first two weeks at Ole Miss in 2000, I experienced the ugly side of Ole Miss when someone called me the “n” word. I guess things come full circle, because in my final few weeks at Ole Miss in 2007, it happened again. I see that the more we change, the more we stay the same. Do I hate these actions? Yes. But do I love Ole Miss? Yes. Do I love MTC? Yes. It’s time to move on to other chapters in my life, but I’ll never forget how MTC and Ole Miss as a whole have molded me into the person I will be. I’m proud to have been a participant in the Mississippi Teacher Corps. I’m proud to have had the opportunity to change lives one at a time.