Snippet from my Personal Statement for law school, (four years ago)

It is quite risky to post what you believe, but at the risk of being vulnerable, here goes.  It's almost 2012 and I have always looked back to what I've done and who I've been to fine tune my future.  Thought I'd share my thoughts from four years ago.

If I fail them, then I fail at life.
My work had become just that serious. I opened my classroom door to the faces of five seven-year-olds waiting for their first glimpse of “teacher,” post-Winter Break. They scrambled in, hung their backpacks on their hooks, got out their materials for the day, and took their seats. Learning to execute just those things had taken us until the end of September to perfect. Amazingly, after a one-month vacation, my students remembered our morning routine and did it flawlessly. Even as the rest staggered in, not a single child went looking for a pencil, forgot his or her holiday “get-smart” homework packet, or asked me to read the directions for the beginning activity. The room was silent. And as they diligently wrote in their journals, I monitored them, doing my best to choke back the tears.
The pride I felt in that moment fueled my commitment to teach for the next eighteen months. My December holiday had been spent analyzing reading unit assessments, math performance projects, and writing samples. The results showed phenomenal growth. My class of predominantly African-American and Latino children had improved an entire grade level in literacy in only five month’s time. These students had transformed into a new group of children now infused with perhaps the greatest source of renewable energy any child has available to him: the motivation to succeed. That January, I knew I had to do everything I could to prepare them for our first high-stakes standardized test in April.
Those first moments still resonate deeply with me. Each day, my students “got smarter” because I taught through their deficiencies and beyond my own self-expectations. We strengthened one another: they worked hard to learn because I worked hard to teach. I saw myself in their little minority faces and knew they needed to see an African-American woman working just as hard for each of them.  By the end of my two years, my two separate classes outperformed projections for their underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds.


How Do We Do More for Juveniles Who Get Less of Both Prevention and Rehabilitation Services?

from my Art of Social Change course facilitated by Betsy Bartholett and Jessica Budniz
     During Week 10, Bryan Stevenson, Naoka Carey, and Josh Dohan cautioned of how the criminal justice system had retreated back to treating juveniles as adults though the juvenile justice movement sought an independent system that acknowledges the real differences between child and adult psychological development.  Last session during Week 11, Tim Decker and Edward Dolan added to the weekly discourse of how many children in the United States begin life and enter adulthood with fewer opportunities to be productive, healthy people.  Mr. Decker and Mr. Dolan took what we learned steps farther by explaining that the trade-offs between due process and rehabilitation for juveniles has resulted in children experiencing grotesquely punitive treatment in youth corrections institutions.