Summer Starr has been awarded the President’s Educator Fellowship during the UCI School of Education 2018-2019 Scholarship Award Ceremony. Summer is pursuing her Multiple Subject Master of Arts in Teaching. Below, she shares her thoughts about her academic journey.
There is one profound moment when my life path became clear to me. It was one day in my government class when my teacher handed out the daily packet and announced that there will be a test in the following week. I made a graphic organizer that seemed to help my classmates understand the
material. The following class, more classmates asked me to share it with the rest of the class as well. I gladly went up to the whiteboard, drew my organizer, and explained it to the class. The teacher became furious with me for using his materials for the class. I politely told him that the class wanted to learn the material, instead of memorizing the list of terms, and I was just helping them learn. He then blurted the words that changed my life forever: “If you want to be a teacher so bad, then go to college and get your credential. Then you can come back here and waste your life teaching these dumb kids who don’t care.”
In that moment, I decided that I would. I would be a teacher for those kids who no one believes in. I would make a difference for all the kids like me, who have dreams of having a better life. I would become a teacher who helps students achieve their dreams, even with all the odds stacked against them. I could make a difference in the world.
With this newfound passion, I began my journey. I left for UC Irvine, I got an on-campus job and joined CalTeach. CalTeach provided me a large range of classroom experiences. I completed around 75 hours of in-class fieldwork at different school settings including Title 1 schools, and those having a
substantial ELL population. My passion for teaching was enhanced by the fieldwork and getting to know the students and teach them. I loved seeing their energy and challenging them to push themselves despite the conditions the schools were in and the lack of materials.
As my time left as an undergraduate student drew closer to an end, I had to decide on how to get my teaching credential. At first, I was debating applying to UC Irvine’s MAT program. I knew it would be very difficult for me to afford, since I am not able to live with my family. I revisited my goals. I asked myself, “What do I really want in life?” I recalled all the students in my schools who fell behind, all those who dropped out, and those who were deemed unworthy of a quality education. I felt the fire in me ignite once again thinking about the unjust treatment students must face because of what they are dealt with at birth. I still wanted to make a difference. In those moments, I decided that I did not just want to be a fine teacher. I wanted to be the best teacher that I could be. I wanted to push myself to learn all that I could learn, no matter the cost. I decided to apply for the MAT at UC Irvine for all those students who deserve a chance to live their best lives.
Every day, I learn so much more about what makes a teacher great and how to best serve underprivileged children and how to best support them in their individual journeys. I have learned so much about how to value each child as an individual and cater to their unique experiences. I am honored to receive this scholarship that will help me continue to learn how to serve and support kids in Title 1 schools and fulfill my dream. I will continue to challenge myself to keep making improvements in my teaching and to always believe in kids that no one else does. I will use what I have learned, and what I will continue to learn, on those who need it most.
Summer Starr and Multiple Subject Coordinator Susan Toma-Berge