A nat­u­ral al­liance

Com­mit­ted to serv­ing stu­dents

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - JEN­NIFER MARY FOX

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.

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