Thankful: conscious of benefit received; expressive of thanks

We are so thankful for all of our partners, volunteers, teachers and students. During this season when gratefulness is top of mind, we’d like to take a moment to spotlight one of these segments in particular: teachers.

It goes without saying that we couldn’t impact as many students as deeply as we do without teachers. For students visiting the JA Discovery Centers, teachers bring the classroom curriculum to life to prepare the students. At JA Academies, teachers evolve from someone who delivers a history lesson, to some students’ role models, mentors and biggest cheerleaders.

At the 2017 JA Atlanta Business Hall of Fame we had the pleasure of hearing from the lead teacher at Banneker High School, our inaugural JA Academy. Ms. LaToya Morgan embodies what it means to be passionate about your work. Every student of hers knows without question that she is rooting for their success, even in moments of tough love. It was truly an honor hear to her get the opportunity to boast about her students and all they’ve accomplished in such a short time. Check out a snippet of her speech below:

“My students attend a Title 1 public high school. Every single one of them live at or below the poverty line. According to every piece of research, they are the pinnacle of disengagement in education. Yet, our kids are showing up to school, leaning into their education, lifting each other up and learning at accelerated rates.

The students leaped nearly three grade levels in reading and math, and outperform their peers on all 9th grade state test, and get this they surpassed students just like them from schools throughout Fulton County.  

 To say JA Academy is transforming students is an understatement.

Bottom line, these kids prove poverty can no longer be a blanket excuse for poor performance in our schools.

When we as a community step up to bring innovation to education, every child has the potential to excel farther than the limitations dictated to them by society.

Our students have been exposed to possibilities many of them could never have imagined. Because of this they have a greater respect for their education- and they are working tirelessly to fuel the futures for themselves and their communities. 

JA Academy does not just make school different it elevates every individual involved.

My students look at the world and the role they can play differently. They’re not just dreamers. They know how to work hard, set goals and put forth the effort to reach the finish line.

They are defying every stereotype and invisible barrier that has been placed on them their entire lives.  Today, they are leaders in our schools, tomorrow they will be leaders of our communities. They are the ones breaking the cycle and rewriting the narrative about today’s generation.  They are the ones proving to their little brothers and sisters that there is more than one option for their futures.

I work hard because my students are my life’s work, but they are the real heroes. They are resilient, determined, driven and inspire me to be a better person and teacher every day. Because of them I know the work we are doing today will impact generations to come.”

Teachers like Ms. Morgan make our work at JA a no brainer. If we can provide passionate and driven teachers like her the space and resources they need to make learning different, who says we can’t transform the entire high school education experience?