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This post is a part of an ongoing series, called “Why I Teach Where I Teach,” which asks educators in high-need schools to share what has attracted (and kept) them in the challenging environments they’re in. They share important stories and experiences that should remind us all of the power of strong school leadership, a network of supportive colleagues, and the genuine opportunity to have a say in schoolwide decisions. Listen up! They’re teaching us.

Jessica Beaudoin is a chemistry and physics teacher at University Park Campus School in Massachusetts, which is 82 percent low-income. She has been an educator for five years; the last four have been at University Park. She writes the ninth entry in this series.

JessicaBeaudoinAt University Park Campus School, we are a family. We band together and offer support whenever any one of us, teacher or student, is having a hard time. Every adult in the building is fully committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure every student who walks through our doors is taught the critical-thinking skills they need to succeed in college.

Six years ago, we had a student enter our school who was stubborn and hot-headed, and she frequently got into trouble for arguing with teachers. But her teachers weren’t deterred. They let her know that she was cared about, and they showed her that she was capable of doing the work and excelling in school. And slowly we began to notice a change in her behavior. She began to participate more in class and show more respect toward her teachers and fellow students. Her grades and attitude both improved tremendously, and by the time she was a senior, she had become a leader. She mentored younger students who presented the same type of attitude that she displayed when she began at University Park.

She graduated last June and went on to a four-year college, where she is doing well. Students like this are why I teach at University Park. I know that there, I am making a difference in my students’ lives.

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