This is my eighth day writing for AATTP and after seven days of negative and depressing subject matter I was ready for something positive and uplifting. I found it in Elijah Miles. Elijah just graduated from high school and was speaking as an intern at Teach For America at a seminar for incoming teachers when he delivered one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard.
Elijah doesn’t come from privilege, he is a product of what we all know as “the hood.” He freely admits that his goal when he was in middle school was to become a drug dealer. This was what he saw in his neighborhood — those who experienced success were drug dealers and gang-bangers. Even his own mother was an addict.
It would have seemed that he was doomed to fall into the vicious cycle that has become the norm in the hood and be just another statistic, but he had teachers who cared and who got him to think about the larger picture.
Now he wants to get out of the hood, as anyone would. What makes him different, amazing really, is that he wants to take others with him and do for those coming up behind him what those teachers did for him. He wants to show them that getting through high school and succeeding in life isn’t just about them, it is about the others who haven’t yet made it out. If any of these new teachers aren’t inspired to give it 110% after hearing this speech then they probably shouldn’t have decided to go into teaching in the first place.