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Long road to teaching for Clarkston grad



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Molly Goss enjoys teaching kids in Teach for America. Photo provided (click for larger version)
November 20, 2013 - Molly Goss is only a few months into being apart of Teach for America and every day is still exciting.

The Clarkston High School 2008 graduate is currently teaching Spanish I to high school students in Nashville, Tenn.

"It is the best feeling in the world," she shared when her students understand the foreign language.

Most of her students are sophomores while a few are juniors and seniors because Tennessee requires two years of a foreign language.

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"Teaching Spanish is different than teaching math or science," she continued. "I have seen this in a lot of my students where they have preconceived notions of math. With Spanish they have no previous knowledge so they don't have any predisposed notions."

Goss added she has a lot of students not doing well in their core subjects and when they receive a high grade in her class they feel better about themselves.

"They are that much invested not only in the class but in themselves. It is seeing them being more confident in themselves," she said. "My students don't have a lot of support from their parents at home so they get the main support from their teachers. There is something really special about encouraging students. It can really impact and shape their lives."

Her experiences with Teach for America and all of her 215 students are great.

"For me, the big thing it has boiled down to is the kids," she said. "They all have their own personalities and there are days I want to start crying and thinking I can't do this. But it has boiled down to seeing my students be successful. Hearing them say they love coming to my class and they never thought they would be successful in Spanish. Seeing the impact of opening their eyes to another world has been like. You can get wrapped up in the politics of the public school system but it really boils to the kids."

Goss had always wanted to go into education because she had a great experience with her teachers.

"Being an educator is a way you can give confidence to students and impact and shape the course of their lives because that's what happened to be," she added. "Being an educator was something I became very passionate about. It plays such a huge role in people's lives."

It was while she was studying abroad in Argentina she had a life epiphany because the public schools in the country weren't high. They were low.

"I saw a lot of education inequity in those schools and I thought this doesn't happen in the US.," Goss said.

"Then, I did a little bit of research and realized low equity is huge here and a big problem. To me it was a no brainer because I always said I would be happiest in a career I could see my impact on others. So I really wanted to find a way I could combine that and education inequity."

She found out about Teach for America, which provides education to kids in low-income communities, from a friend who was involved.

"I had a conversation with her and she said 'I think you are someone who would really thrive in this environment,'" Goss said. "I looked in my research and it was all my apples in one basket. I really wanted to do it."

She applied for Teach for America and has been with them since May. She also taught summer school in Atlanta.

She admitted at one time she did pause from her path going into education - as she called the college life crisis.

"I strayed away from it for a little bit," she said. "But I always knew in the back of my head it is what I would be doing. It was just a matter of taking the long route to get there."

The long route helped as it gave her time to reflect on what was important and finding something where she could help others.

"When my students are doing well and become more involved it makes me excited," she smiled. "Everyone gets excited to answer questions because they know the answers. It has been really rewarding for me. Teach for America is a way I can have a direct involvement in making my classes that much better."

"If someone is remotely interested in changing our education system and having an impact on education it is a program to look into and pursue," Goss added. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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