Stacks of paper cover every inch of the table. Smaller stacks held together by paper clips, larger by binder clips. Every handout for the week on this one table. Each stack carefully labeled with a light blue post-it note. Betsy Waisel surveys the past hours’ work. Exhausted but proud, she finally sits and drinks the last sip of her iced coffee.

Just three months out of college, Waisel, 22, stepped back in the classroom as she began her two years with Teach For America.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the Indy 500 and not much else, lies T.C. Howe High School. Monday through Friday, from 6:30 AM to 5 PM, you can find Waisel there.

You might find her creating posters on “The Most Dangerous Game” to keep her students engaged.

Or helping a student email a local college football coach, hoping he will be one of the few students in his class to attend a four year college.

Or making sure students stay calm as the school is on lockdown.

You might find her marveling at her silent classroom, which will hopefully stay that way for at least a few seconds more.

Or listening as her students freestyle rap as they walk into class.

Or even rapping along to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with them.

You might find her listening to them share the problems they face at home, which she will carry home with her.

Whatever you find her doing, you will find her doing it for her students. You will find her supporting them and challenging them. Listening to them and telling them to be quiet. Writing with them and pushing them to write on their own. You will find her holding them to the high expectations she knows they can achieve.


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