Should I say or Should I go? Making the Choice to Leave the Classroom

A few weeks ago, it hit me.  I was really leaving the classroom.  On the last day of school, I began to share this news with other people outside of my school.  My principal is fully supportive and she had known for a few months.  Many people began to ask me why I chose to leave the classroom and whether I decided to leave education, altogether.

TeachPlus asked me to write a piece for their series on teachers who decided to leave the classroom this year.  I feel honored to be able to share my story.  Below is an excerpt:

Unlike most of my friends in my hometown of Bridgeton, NJ, I began life with the scale tilting in my favor. My father was a first generation college graduate who worked hard to ensure that I would not have to struggle like his family did. His life experiences led him to ask me a serious question in my final year of middle school: “Do you want to attend private school next year?” Faced with the decision about public versus private secondary education, I knew what was at stake: get a top-notch high school education that would ultimately lock in my acceptance to a premier college or university, or gamble my future success by attending my sole local high school — ranked the lowest in the county, with a college matriculation rate of about 10 percent.

On that day, I firmly told my dad that I would graduate from the public Bridgeton High School. He didn’t know it at the time, but with that one question, my father lit a fire inside of me that continues to burn for high quality public education for all children.

I left New Jersey with three suitcases and a dream. After college, I started my teaching career in New Orleans, and then relocated to Washington, D.C., where I taught third grade in a district turnaround school. But after four years, I’m stepping out of the classroom. It’s a tough choice, but the reality is that I believe I can make the biggest impact on public education from outside the walls of my school.

Check out the rest of my reflection here.

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