June 03, 2015 13:38 Age: 3 yrs

Why I Became an AF Teacher-in-Residence: Two AF Parents’ Stories

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Kat McKim is the special projects coordinator & director of after school programming at Achievement First East New York Elementary School, where Morekwe McElveen and Mitsy Traore are kindergarten teachers

At my school, I have been struck that two of our kindergarten teachers—Morekwe McElveen and Mitsy Traore—began their teaching careers in a unique way: as parents of Achievement First students.

Morekwe and Mitsy both have children at Achievement First Aspire Elementary in Brooklyn. They have told me that the compassion and commitment to academic excellence they saw from the AF Aspire Elementary teachers and leaders inspired them to launch their own careers in education, as teachers-in-residence at Achievement First East New York Elementary. I was excited to learn more about their experiences.

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Kat:  What struck you most about the teachers at AF Aspire Elementary?

Mitsy: They showed phenomenal dedication to my child. My son, DJibrile, has special needs, and the staff, they’re so capable and so prepared to help him. They set high standards, and they believe every child is capable of meeting that bar. I felt motivated and supported, like other people shared my same goals for my son.

Morekwe: My son Nasr’s teachers set very high expectations for him, but they also appreciated him as an individual that was capable of making growth. He has a hard time following directions sometimes, but they didn’t give up on him. They looked for the ‘glows’, not just the ‘grows’ in his behavior, and they made sure every day felt like a clean slate for him.

Kat: What inspired you to make the jump from AF parent to AF teacher?

Mitsy: I wanted to help others just as my son has been helped at AF Aspire Elementary. I have a lot of passion and drive to do what it takes to help children succeed. I’ve done it for my son over the years, and I wanted to impart what I’ve learned to others students.

Morekwe: I knew I wanted to teach after seeing my son’s teachers, but I didn’t know where to start. Achievement First’s teacher-in-residence program was a perfect entry into teaching. I am gaining valuable classroom experience while being mentored by a more experienced teacher.

Kat: What is it like being an AF parent and an AF teacher?

Mitsy: It is a two-way street. Now that I’m “on the inside,” I understand the structure of the school in a more detailed way. Working here has made me more prepared as a parent to help my kids succeed, with both school culture and academics, because I see how everything works.

Morekwe: Being a parent helps. I’m able to be tough, but [my students] know that it’s with love.

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Morekwe and Mitsy work every day to embody the values that first drew them to become Achievement First teacher-in-residence. We are lucky to have them as a part of our “Team & Family” here at New York Elementary.

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