Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 27 2012

Tribute to Sarah, 2009 Delta CM.

Sarah Saw

In her third grade classroom, Sarah Saw twenty-some kids who, for their next project, should write a non-fiction text. Sarah Saw twenty-some kids who should learn about their individual and collective impact in their own lives, in their own classroom, in their school community, town community, state, nation, and world. Sarah Saw a seemingly “no big deal” project that was, despite anything she’ll ever tell you, a really big deal.

Because of what Sarah Saw, she contacted the school librarian, then the librarians of all the other schools in the district, and the town library. Sarah Saw all of her students collect facts and materials necessary to not just make a construction paper book, but a poster-sized presentation about their country of choice. After that Sarah Saw all her students to the sad, sad computer lab where she coached them through making a powerpoint presentation, even when the technology failed.

Simultaneously, Sarah Saw an opportunity for her students to not just learn about making an impact, but make an impact. She contacted Heifer International and single-handedly spear-headed a grade-wide project called “Read to Feed” in which she proceeded to lead 120 nine-year-olds in raising over $4,700 for families and communities these students have never met. The irony, here, is that our 80+% free-and-reduced lunch (read: 80+% in poverty) students were raising money for families that are living in poverty.

Sarah is the third-year teacher whose history includes “keeping Caroline alive for a year.” Sarah is the third-year who can calm me with less than five words in any given situation. Sarah is my Dumas sister who constantly refuses to acknowledge that she has done anything extraordinary, so I am doing it for her.

Sarah Saw something that to her wasn’t even a second thought, it was just something for her to do. But what Sarah Saw is something no one else had seen in a long time. A community that has the potential to care (because we do), that has the potential to act (because her students did), who has the potential to spend a week preparing for the biggest speaker Dumas has seen in who knows how long – Terry Roberts, a member of the Little Rock Nine.

What Sarah can see, and what we can all see because of what Sarah is willing to put into her work, is what makes me so incredibly angry at all the anti-TFA blogs and TFA quitters. I know it is hard. I know my district is luxury compared to most. But we are all capable of making things like this happen, of giving students these insane opportunities that turn out to be not that hard to put together. We just have to see it, we just have see like Sarah Saw.

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