My name is Summer Drum and I am a college student studying elementary education. I have wanted to be a teacher ever since I could prop my stuffed animals against my wall and scribble on my chalkboard. My childhood was filled with books; I’d stay awake hours past my bedtime, reading in the closet with a booklight. Writing quickly became another passion of mine; when I was in fifth grade, I’d beg my teacher to let me stay inside during recess so I could create new poems in peace. I became enthralled with public speaking and started participating in speech contests.
Needless to say, school has always been my “thing.” But my love for learning had to be cultivated mainly on my own, because as I grew, I saw the pitfalls of public education and how they vowed to break me. To make me conform. I wasn’t allowed to go to the library during homeroom, because that period was turned into test prep. I wasn’t able to ask the burning questions I had in class, because we had to move on to learn all of the exam material. I saw how unfairly some students were treated because of their socioeconomic backgrounds, race, and ethnicities. I noticed when the wealthy students at my school were magically able to raise their grades from B’s to A’s after their parents visited. I fumed in the office when I was kicked out of class for wearing leggings, all in the name of “distracting the boys.”
I realized that while teachers are some of the most important members of our workforce, and learning is a joyous, lifelong endeavor, our system of educating students is broken. The policies trying to improve education are making teachers sick, tired, and unappreciated. Students sit at desks all day long, punished for talking or moving. Kids who have test anxiety feel like failures when they have to face long, meaningless, ridiculous bubble sheets. Minorities, especially black males, are sent rushing through the school-to-prison pipeline.
That leads me to what my true passion is: Educational reform. Repairing the broken system so students can ENJOY learning. Critically analyzing gaps in performance and finding their underlying causes. Retiring the familiar notion that a teacher is a “failure” if her students don’t meet certain standards. Reevaluating teacher accountability measures and bringing a teacher’s voice back into the classroom. More than anything, revamping our schools so students WANT to be there. So they’re encouraged, cherished, and given choice in their own learning. So that the teacher and students can be colleagues on a collective journey, making discoveries together every day. So that students learn about what’s going on in the world, and how they can be a part in changing things. So that more kids will stay up past their bedtimes, hide in their closets, and become spellbound by the books in their hands.
I hope you enjoy.