A natural alliance
Committed to serving students
When Osceola High School’s principal, Mrs. Tiffany Morgan, met with me and three other Osceola teachers to let us know that our district would be hosting Arkansas Teacher Corps’ Summer Institute this year, I was excited and proud.
I became a fellow with the Arkansas Teacher Corps (ATC) in 2015, after receiving my Ph.D. in literature from the University of Notre Dame. I knew I had to teach, but I also was driven to serve. The Arkansas Teacher Corps’ motto “Commit, Serve, Teach!” summed up my values and my desires.
Over the past two years, I have come to realize I was not only committed to public education in Arkansas, but also to the community of students, faculty, and administrators at Osceola High.
—————— When, as a brand-new Arkansas Teacher Corps fellow fresh out of Summer Institute training, I was offered a position as a teacher of English Language Arts at Osceola High School almost two years ago, I was full of hope, but I had some doubts too. I wondered if I could fit in. I wondered if the students would accept me.
I wondered if I would be the teacher they deserved.
Shortly after I was hired, I remember one meeting vividly. Mrs. Morgan, District Superintendent Mr. Michael Cox, and Mr. Alfred Hogan, our district assistant superintendent, told me that they intended to turn the district around. The key to their strategy was to build a faculty dedicated to the students and community in Osceola.
I was impressed by their easy way with the students, by the seriousness with which they took their commitment, and by the fact that they wanted me to be part of something that they cared about passionately.
In the two years I have been a teacher in the Osceola School District, I can see the improvements already. From curriculum development, to faculty training, to teacher retention: Osceola School District is changing, and for the better.
The partnership between ATC’s Summer Institute and Osceola School District is built on two years of collaboration and a shared mission to provide the best education possible for Arkansas students in Mississippi County. Last year I was one of two Arkansas Teacher Corps fellows in the Osceola School District; this year I am one of four, and I expect that number will grow again by next year.
The alliance is natural. The commitment is real.
The new 2017 fellows, who will begin teaching in their own classrooms this fall, deserve our congratulations and good wishes. They are beginning a difficult but rewarding career.
This summer in Osceola will change their lives. It will also give them the opportunity—over the next three years and beyond—to help young people take charge of their lives. Our students, in Osceola and across Arkansas, are giving them the opportunity to teach them and to get to know them. These students are well worth knowing and well worth teaching.
To the new fellows, your time with students is the best part of a very challenging summer, and the best part of a very challenging career. Enjoy it and welcome to Osceola!
Jennifer Mary Fox, Ph.D., is a member of the 2015 cohort of the Arkansas Teacher Corps (www.arkansasteachercorps.org). This fall, she will enter her third year in the program as a teacher of English Language Arts at Osceola High School in Northeast Arkansas.