Why Do I Teach?
Asking why I teach is like asking a fish why it swims, or a bird why it flies.
I was simply born to take in and share information. Of course I do it in my own way, due to the conditions and circumstances I’ve journeyed through in my lifetime. But teach I must, so teach I do. I was very resistant to being a teacher (and sometimes I still am). It wasn’t a path I chose, the path seemed to choose me. First I’l share a little background information about myself.
I was born, grew up, and still live in Oakland, California. After being tested in kindergarden (at Martin Luther King school in West Oakland) I was labeled a gifted student, and put in an accelerated program. This meant we did things other children didn’t get to do, like weekly field trips, lots of hands on science and math, public speaking, etc . This made me stand out and I would have been labeled “uncool”, except for the fact that I was really good at sports.
That got me a pass with the “cool kids”, some of my classmates weren’t so lucky. Were I grew up between the age of 5 and 8 was the Acorn housing units.
It was a mix of working class, poor, and some upper class ( mostly members of the Oakland A’s). There was also a criminal element that for some reason I was attracted to. I won’t go into detail, lets just say I didn’t grow up a Saint.
This is one of the reasons I’m reluctant to call myself a role model.
“An example” may be a better description. After the third grade my family ( which was myself, my sister, and my mother) moved to East Oakland.
For the first time in my life I had to physically fight to prove myself.
My new school was called Webster. I was the new kid, and everyone wanted to test me. It wasn’t until I had a fight after school with this kid named Jerry S. That I earned my respect.
He must have told everyone he was going to fight me, because it seemed like the whole school was waiting to follow me home.
In typical old school fashion, he pushed me, I pushed him back.
Then we took of our jackets and got to it. I beat him so bad that he tried to crawl under a mail box. Nobody bothered me after that. I would change schools two more times, Longfellow, and Lakeview, before I started at Westlake Jr high school.
I liked Jr. high, I made the basketball team, had a lot of new friends,the teachers were great, and I did well in school. It was high school were I started disliking my experience. I felt only one teacher at Oakland high school really cared about me.
Her name was Ms Satterfield. She was my english teacher. I was always good with words and she inspired me to write. I may have dressed a little crazy with my Derby jacket turned inside out, Captain hat tilted to the side, hair uncombed, house shoes, and eye glasses frames with no lenses. Ms Satterfield saw through my attire, and made me feel comfortable enough to share some of my poetry with her. She loved my work and even had me read it in class one day. Everyone was amazed to say the least. I had a reputation of being kinda of gangsta, and a bit crazy. No one really knew the real me. How could they, I was just finding out who I was myself. Although I would leave school in the 11th grade and take my G.E.D. the next year, I never forgot Ms Satterfield’s kindness. In fact when I made my first Record “Rapalholic” in 1987, she was one of the first people I gave a copy to.
My mother was working for the YMCA as a administrator when I was still in high school. They needed someone to sub in an after school program, and asked me if I would be interested. Being jobless and tired of hustling all the time I decided to give it a try. I did so well I was offered a part time after school job as an assistant. It seemed so easy to me to be playing sports, reading telling stories and disciplining children. I knew everything they were thinking about trying, because I had already been there, and done that. I would go back to school just long enough to gain some early childhood education units, and take a new job teaching at a preschool. While there I was offered a job to co-direct an after school program, at a different school so I excepted.
I soon was offered more hours to asset in the classrooms, and thats when I began to teach science.