My personal mission this year, in accord with TFA’s new “Transformational Teaching” approach, is to get my 8th graders into excellent high schools. I’ve started by asking parents and students about their high school plans.
One of my students, Aubrey, is quiet in class other than occasionally raising her hand to answer a question. I noticed that her mom stated on an information sheet that Aubrey would like to go to a prestigious performing arts charter school in DC. So, I e-mailed the mom to see how I could help. The response to the e-mail caused tears to stream down my eyes as I read. She told me that last week she was diagnosed with cancer, but Aubrey doesn’t know yet. It is her last living wish to get Aubrey into this school so that she can leave earth knowing that her daughter will be getting a good education in a safe environment that suits her arts interests.
After checking the school’s admissions website, I quickly learned that Aubrey would need to submit her most recent standardized test scores as a part of the application packet. Knowing that Aubrey is in my lowest level class, I remembered that only 4 out of the 30 kids were proficient in math last year. If Aubrey did not pass last year’s test, she would have a small chance at getting into a competitive school. I worried as I logged on to the site that holds test score data, thinking “please let her be proficient, please let her be proficient” and to my extreme relief saw that she was proficient in both reading and math.
Next steps: visit the school, prepare Aubrey for an academic assessment, and create an audition piece.