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Teach For America Corps Member Shares His Hope for Student Success

Publication Date: 8/18/2010

Rhodes alumnus John Nichols ’10 recently spoke at a Teach For America ceremony in Chicago. He was one of five Teach For America corps members chosen to make a presentation to an audience of about 700.

“What did I expect when I joined Teach For America?” Nichols began his speech. “In short, I expected to be tired. Very tired. Very often.”  

But after his first week of school at Percy Julian High School in Chicago where he taught this summer, Nichols said he realized the most effective boost of energy would not be from a carbonated beverage, but from the engagement with the students.  “Coming into the classroom each day, interacting with a classroom of awe-inspiring young adults, I have never felt more awake.”

Nichols added that his experience at the school gave him a lesson in flexibility.  “Even the almighty Five Step Lesson Plan cannot protect us from the unpredictable nature of a classroom full of students,” said Nichols. “I have learned to come to class ready to deviate here or there and to not take my lesson plan or myself too rigidly. The classroom is not a cut and dried place, and the students continually reminded me this.”

Overall, Nichols says he wants to help students believe in the limitless options an education provides and make them aware of their ability to put themselves on a path of success in pursuing those options.

“My greatest hope is that students invest in themselves. I think that before they can learn content, students need to realize that they are capable of learning and accomplishing their goals.”


Tags: Alumni, Honors, Lectures


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