Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 27 2013


  1. Move out of or away from something and come into view.
  2. Become apparent, important, or prominent: “Philadelphia has emerged as the favorite”; “a world of emerging economic giants”

There is such a gorgeous connotation to the word. We think of butterflies, we think of the transition from darkness to light, we think of the glory of being seen.

I love my life. I love the universe, the small towns and the Little Rock suburban city. I love my current and school-year co-workers, my students and the summer school students my fellows are teaching. I know deeply, factually, that I am content with my life, my decisions, my existence. I am fundamentally satisfied.

It’s these stabbing tiny details that do their best to pile themselves, stack into messy painful walls, that block sight and physically obstruct movement. Now that I am in summer, now with a new dress and new bangs, with a new job and new surroundings, now it is so clear to see how I walked out of an igloo, a treehouse, a prison of details that worked themselves around me. That oftentimes I placed there– painfully and intentionally, blocking me from myself.

The close of a third year again pulls me further from the Teach For America persona I created and maintained on this blog for two and a half years. I am growing out of that, I am maturing into something else, and I apologize to again repeat: it prevents me from writing on this forum… I’m just nervous if I leave I’ll be lost, without the TFAmous acclaim I giggle when I admit I’ve acquired.

Regardless, this is where I am.

I am stripped of the heavy weight I found and carried for months. I am rekindling a familiarity with myself that has been lost. I am remembering my purpose for myself– I am leaving from months focused on everything but (students, family, personal relationships) and emerging in this brutal June Arkansan light and heat. I am mourning for the opportunities I missed with my students from January to May, as I built up the fortress of details, but I am so proud to be where I am. I am so grateful to know myself better. I am so appreciative of the phone call I got from my student who called me “Mom,” where she asked me about my summer, told me about hers, forced me to subscribe to her youtube account, and we ended the conversation with “I love you.”

I could cry just writing it out.

This summer I am working as a mentor (TFA peeps read: CMA) for the Arkansas Teacher Corps. I work with fellows (program equivalent to Corps Members). Our training platform is called “Institute”, but this program is fundamentally, for better or worse, different than Teach For America…. despite every human in Arkansas viewing ATC and TFA as synonymous.

It’s a first year program. It’s a mess like ever program is. But I entered into this for a reason, and it is almost exactly as I expected. Exponential room for growth in every direction, huge appreciation for every¬†contribution, a community of incredibly dedicated, hard-working Arkansans!!


The fellows here are naturally more diverse than the Delta Institute in age, background, and life experience (if I were to judge based on my experiences as a CMA last summer). The language is plain, the plans are much more vague, and we’re established more as a choose-your-own-adventure, flexible, self-motivated learner than the Delta Institute. The urgent, anxiety-ridden structure of TFA is lacking… something I can’t yet pin as a pro or a con. The verbose to the point of exhaustion templates, plans, and structures simply do not exist. Working in this parameter is making me see with a much greater clarity the massive benefits of both sides.

Also, as I expected it would, this program is making my decision more definite that I want to spend my 2014 summer as a Curriculum Specialist for TFA’s Delta Institute. I wanted it this year but didn’t feel yet qualified. After this with ATC and one more year in the classroom, I’m confident I will love and excel in the role.

That is… if Arkansas Teacher Corps doesn’t snatch me up with a more director-type position for their¬†Institute next summer. :)


One Response

  1. J. Lange

    Hey, Caroline. I remember enjoying so much our conversation at the last ProSat. I am so happy to see you loving on Arkansas so much; my relationship with my home state, with TFA, with education, with life….well, it’s all so complicated. It’s so great to see you evolving and emerging, planning personally and professionally. To quote Icona Pop, “I love it!”

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