What Teaching Elsewhere Taught Me About My Role in ABQ Ed
posted on December 16, 2017 by Leslie Parker
“I believe there are strong teachers here, I believe there is strong leadership and I believe, more than anything, in our students.”
I left Albuquerque as a recent graduate in 2006 to join the Teach for America Baltimore corps and to establish myself as someone who was going to make a difference. I didn’t know then what the next 11 years would hold, but looking back, I can undoubtedly say those years have inspired the exact work I want to continue doing here in my hometown.
I am a product of the Albuquerque Public School system and I plan to send my children to the same system.
For the next 11 years, I had the extraordinary opportunity to work in Baltimore and Denver schools with some of the best in this work. And when I returned to Albuquerque, after having children of my own, I realized how high the education stakes actually are and how much I wanted to be part of the solutions and work that leads to all students being able to access an incredible education here in Albuquerque.
In a community that needs the village to help raise this system, it is disappointing how many people have veered me away from working as an educator in New Mexico because “the pay is too low” and the “scores are not satisfactory.” To that, I get fired up. I am a product of the Albuquerque Public School system and I plan to send my children to the same system.
In Baltimore and Denver, I learned that strong overall student achievement comes from strong teacher retention. The strongest leaders I had were relentless to do what was best for students, asked for feedback continuously and valued their staff by telling them and telling others about them. They recognized the brutal facts, but also never lost their undying faith that our students could achieve. This can be said about the incredible teachers I have collaborated with as well. The best teachers I worked with came to the table with solutions, proposals and the willingness to see it through. They were the most reflective, collaborative people in the building and approached everything by assuming the best first.
I come back with more grit, determination and humility to be a part of whatever it takes to provide the best for Albuquerque.
There is no doubt that I have a lot to learn when it comes to the current Albuquerque educational landscape, however what I have learned is to bring what the best mentors, colleagues, families and students have taught me – I am always ready to learn. I believe there are strong teachers here, I believe there is strong leadership and I believe, more than anything, in our students. I believe that it is our community’s role to be involved, to care about the hard realities and to genuinely believe our students deserve the best and do whatever it takes to make that happen.
I left as a recent graduate, a young adult, a single person ready to explore the world I didn’t know. I come back a wife, a mother, a dedicated and passionate educator who has been impacted greatly by my former students and I like to believe that through my experiences, I come back with more grit, determination and humility to be a part of whatever it takes to provide the best for Albuquerque.