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We Got Next: Clara Wruck

Posted on 16 June 2017

This June YXU has launched our "We Got Next" campaign to highlight more than 20 young leaders from across the country who are applying their passions to make a difference in their community. Follow along with YXU on Facebook, @yxulife on Twitter and Instagram and grab your We Got Next tee benefiting the Lebron James Family Foundation.

 

Imagine a world in which all children grow up knowing their value, worth, and potential. Imagine a world where all children receive positive affirmation for their efforts and hard work. Imagine a world in which every student understands that “smart” is achieved through hard work and that “smart” is not an innate ability that some are endowed with and some can never achieve.

Think about a world where all young people have role models who care and expect the best of them. Think. How beautiful would that be?

I want to help make that world-right now.

My name is Clara Wruck and I am teaching biology and chemistry in a Title One school this coming fall through Teach for America. Title One Schools are especially low-performing schools and are located in many of the poorest school districts in the country.

Right now, the reality is that many students have teachers who don’t believe in their abilities. This means that we have students that are cheated. They are cheated by the system. Students, through no fault of their own, fall through the cracks. These are students that could have become doctors, scientists, engineers, politicians or entrepreneurs. They could have been anything. The students can change their world, BUT first they must believe it. And to believe it, it helps immensely to see others believe it first. When leaders such as teachers consistently affirm successes, actions, and efforts, our students can begin to ask “why not us?” They can enter the dialogue of how they can create impact.

Teachers may not directly transform world, but through the eyes of others, they can turn it upside down, flip it on its side, or provide a new lens to peer through. There is not a job I can think of that is more honorable, important, or humbling than empowering the lives of our young people.

We have to empower our young people to change the world, not just because it feels good, but because it is true. And our children deserve to know that. We need them not just to know it, but to speak it, to breathe it, and to live it. Teachers can do that-and many of them do, but not enough. Anything and everything short of 100% is not enough.

Often times, students from Title One schools don’t get the excellent and passionate teachers they deserve because many of the most excellent teachers don’t want to work in these schools. The conditions are difficult. Students are difficult. Circumstances are difficult. And it is easier to work where one does not have to reckon every day with the inequities that students of color face in this country. It is easier to work in an environment where nearly 100% of students are not on free or reduced lunch. It is easier, but it is not better.

I know that I don’t have all of the answers and I know that I alone cannot and will not solve the problems of the achievement gap in the United States. I alone cannot change the unfortunate inequities that exist because of the zip code one is born into. But, I can help students see that there is incredible value in who they are right now. Right now, whether they are getting A’s or failing tests. Right now, whether they diligently do their homework or frequently turn in late work. They are people and they matter. It is my job to make sure they understand that. If they understand that they matter, then they can do work that matters. When they can do work that matters, the only limit is the depth of their passions and the creativity of their minds. When students are empowered, the question is not “why?” the question is “why not?”

When students truly realize that they are important and that the world needs them, they can understand that there is no limit to what they can do. The sky is not the limit. The sky is just the beginning.

Each and every young person has a powerful spirit. It is my job as a teacher and the job of thousands of other teachers to help our students see the fire within them. We may provide the lens, but the students bring the eyes.

So, why not us? Why not change the world? Because we certainly can’t let it stay the same.

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