Application Essay

“It’s time for some number magic,” I say as I focus my students’ thoughts back on learning after a five-minute recess. It was time for them to learn the nine times table; I had my students sit next to me while I performed the magic. I held both of my hands straight in front of me, palms forward, with fingers outstretched and asked, “What is nine times three?” To show the answer, I counted to my third finger from the left and bent that finger down. I explained, “The number of fingers remaining straight on the left side of the bent finger give you the 10’s amount, and the total number of fingers remaining straight on the right side of the bent finger give you the 1’s amount. For nine times three, we have two fingers left standing on the left and seven left standing of the right, so our answer is 27.” My students’ faces lit with excitement when they realized they could find the answer to nine times three, or four, or five all by themselves using the magic I had taught them.

In reality, I was an eight-year old and my only student was my younger brother. I made him play school with me regularly and would teach him what I had learned at school that day. As I got older, playing school evolved into tutoring elementary kids in an after-school program, helping classmates with homework, and in college, becoming a teaching assistant for Calculus and also Chemistry and Biometrics. The one constant in all of these situations is my excitement when they finally ‘get it.’ Whether it is a second grader who just discovers she can spell ‘firefighter’ correctly, or a junior in college who finally understands the definition of a derivative, I feel I have made a difference in their lives; that I have helped them in some small way realize their potential.

Poor, rural areas struggle to attract good, dedicated teachers and, as a result, the children suffer. They receive a sub-standard education due to lack of interest and excitement in the learning process. Every child has limitless potential, but without nurturing and encouragement, that potential is wasted or forgotten. I love being able to open doors for someone who thought they were permanently closed to them. I love helping people exceed their own expectations. The Mississippi Teacher Corps is a program that would allow me to do what I love.

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