Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 05/23/2011

Emily Weigel

2011 Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Teach for America Fellow

Yale Law School

Princeton University

 

For the past two years, I have had the life-changing opportunity to teach seventh grade at a public middle school in Prince George’s County through Teach For America.  Each day, I teach two regular classes, one honors class, and one special education class—a total of over 100 students. Last year, I co-founded and led our school’s first National Junior Honor Society. We have taken our children on official tours of the Capitol, the Pentagon, the Holocaust Museum, several universities in Washington, DC, the Supreme Court, and the White House.  I am immensely proud to say that my classroom was the one chosen by TFA for Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards to visit, and by our county’s Language Arts Department for frequent visits of new teachers. To the delight of my students, we were also selected by Apple for their iPad pilot program, and—after a visit from DJ Flexx of a popular DC Hip-Hop and R&B station—featured on his evening radio show. My children deserve this attention—entering the seventh grade, almost half of my students scored below proficient in reading; by October of last year, 82% scored proficient, and through June, over 95% of my students regularly achieved proficiency. My current students are on the same potentially life-changing trajectory.

This fall, I will attend Yale Law School. Through my experiences teaching, motivating, and investing fully—blood, sweat, and tears—in the lives of my students, I have learned that change is made deepest and most lasting through motivating those who will be impacted by that change to seek it themselves, and helping them to facilitate that process. I intend to pursue a career in this type of facilitation—through practicing and teaching law in the public service. I wish to give my clients and students the knowledge and the leverage necessary to control the trajectory of their lives, and the agency to meaningfully impact their communities.

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