One of the most valuable experiences of being a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools is watching my high-school students challenge the public narratives others have written about them.
My students don't see themselves as victims or powerless people. Sure, they fear, they dream, they doubt. But they persevere in ways that should inspire us.
A few weeks ago, we wrapped up our study of personal essays. In our lessons, we examined how writers use memory and observation. So my students, in eloquent and thought-provoking essays, told stories with universal meaning.
The gallery of images here captures the experience of a student who found personal courage as he worked to increase his physical strength, a student who changed her physical appearance and felt liberated, a student who overcame emotional struggles, a student who found a new academic identity, and many more examples of transcendence and insight.
Even after twenty-one years of teaching, I never get bored of reading my students' essays. These narratives of resilience are what keep me going and keep inspiring me to challenge the public narrative people have of our public schools.
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