What I’m Thankful For — By Melissa Beck

November 22, 2016


In this season of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of where I was three years ago at this time. I was a teacher, sitting in my 11th grade math classroom, just outside Atlanta. Red and yellow leaves fell from the trees outside my window, and I was feeling conflicted.

On one hand, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, I felt grateful for the chance to work with my students each day – all of them thoughtful, ambitious and caring. But, I also felt frustrated. About three months into the school year, I’d had countless ideas about what we might try – in my classroom, at our school, and in our community – to better support our students. I felt frustrated because between teaching, lesson planning and getting to know my students, hardly any of those ideas had come to fruition.

My educator friends and I talked about our bold ideas all the time. These conversations filled our early morning carpools, our hallway chats between class periods, and our Friday happy hours. What if we had better tools for measuring what students knew and could do, so we could better meet each one on their level? What if our school was designed in such a way that students really, truly drove their own learning? What if the people making decisions that affected our students shared the most important aspects of our students’ identities? Despite our strong hypotheses about what might better serve our kids, we weren’t totally sure how to get started or where to go for help if we wanted to bring our ideas to life.

A few years later, as luck would have it, I learned about NewSchools Venture Fund. NewSchools finds, funds and supports teams of educators who – just like my former colleagues and me – have bold ideas for how to support students as they pursue their most ambitious dreams and plans.

Having just joined the NewSchools team this past August, I’m heading into this Thanksgiving season feeling grateful once again. And, I’m also feeling hopeful. I am lucky to be part of an organization that supports teams of educators and entrepreneurs who are reimagining education and creating new pathways in service of students and families.

As an educator, I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to while I was in the classroom. I do feel proud of what I was able to accomplish, though. And, I am hopeful I can still make an impact through an organization like NewSchools.