In celebration of Black History Month, we are acknowledging and uplifting Black teacher residents who are part of NCTR Network teacher residency programs, eager to begin teaching a class of students as a teacher of record and make a difference in their communities.
Meet Ricky Rush, Chicago Teacher Residency Program
Why did you decide to take part in the teacher residency program?
The reason why I decided to take part in the teacher residency program was because I saw the need for African American males in the public-school system firsthand. I grew up in the inner-city limits of Chicago and have seen the good and the bad within the public-school system. I never had a Black male teacher in my entire elementary and high school career. It was not until I got to college that I had the privilege to have a Black male educator. I soon became amazed, by not only his lectures, but by the connection that we made and how we just clicked. This changed my outlook on my own education and my personal beliefs.
After building a strong relationship with my professor, I was told by him that I should go into teaching and keep the “ball rolling” and help other brothers who are trying to succeed. This resulted in my doing some serious thinking. As I remembered back on my own learning experiences I noticed that the only experience I had with a Black male in the school building was as a disciplinarian or a security guard. I know that Black males have so much more to offer in the school setting and I wanted to lead by example. I feel that it is a must that we as Black males teach our own children and mold them into the creative hardworking people that our ancestors have always been.
How has being part of the program contributed to your life?
Being part of the teacher residency program has contributed to my life in many positive ways. One of the most positive contributions is seeing firsthand the growth of my students. I get to experience the struggles and the frustrations of my students trying to learn something new. After countless hours of practice and hard work, the look of their faces when they achieve the goal makes it all worth it. The result of knowing that I have taught them something that they will remember for the rest of their lives is unmatched to none. I get a joy in my soul telling my students that “you can do this and you are smart.” Seeing the transformation from the beginning of the year to now is mind blowing and makes my life worth living.
What does being a Black teacher mean to you?
Being a Black teacher means everything to me. Being a Black teacher is something that I take pride in. I wake up every morning know that I am making a difference in someone’s life. As a Black teacher, I where multiple hats and have to be able to adjust them at any given time. Being a Black teacher makes me feel as if I have superpowers. My powers are the ability to influence minds, teach knowledge, offer encouraging words to minds that are like sponges and just want to soak in as much as possible. This makes me believe that regular people do wear capes.
How do you think schools and districts can best support you as a Black teacher?
The best way that I think that school districts can best support Black teachers is by offering support such as workshops that keep us up to date on new research and findings associated with teaching. Another way in which I think that school districts can best support Black teachers is by having resources for teachers who feel overwhelmed at times. This can be a chatline, a website or anything that Black teachers can go to when we feel like the load is too heavy and need someone to talk to. I have to admit that this job is not easy and it does get demanding. It would be nice to know that you have someone who you can talk to and who can relate to what you are going through is just a phone call or click away.
What are you looking forward to most upon completion?
What I am looking forward to the most upon completion is having my own classroom. I just can’t wait to be able to lead and facilitate my own class and structure the way I want my class to be. I am learning so much from my teacher residency program and I just can not wait until I am able to illustrate my learnings and teachings in my own classroom. I look forward to continuing to teach and influence the minds of tomorrow, today.
Posted February 28, 2023