Allison Hitchcock - Why I Believe Memphis Academy
Growing up, I loved school. I was incredibly fortunate to live in an area where the public schools were filled with life-long teachers, an abundance of extracurricular activities, and strong athletic programs. I thrived on the structure of a school day: arrival, band, class, lunch, class, soccer, homework, practice, bed. Every day, I repeated the routine, and my goal was to master every part of it. I worked hard and had teachers who challenged me; I didn’t know anything different. When I applied to colleges, I had teachers and relatives who actively told me not to pursue education. At the time, I went back and forth between becoming a teacher and an engineer. I didn’t know too much about engineering, but I knew that it was challenging and that was exciting, so I accepted my offer to study chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota.
Once at the U of M, there were a number of experiences that led me back to education. My freshman year, I attended the LeaderShape institute which is designed to develop leaders who “lead with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible.” My mentors encouraged me to write about my deepest values and to create a vision for my future. Everything I wrote was related to children and education. Although I continued to study in the college of science engineering, I changed my major to Chemistry and began taking education courses through the DirecTrack for Teaching, volunteering through Big Brothers Big Sisters, and volunteering in tutoring programs at local schools. I interned at a Breakthrough Program in Minneapolis called LearningWorks and created a curriculum and taught my own class for the first time. During this time, I knew that I liked chemistry, but I loved education. I applied for and accepted my offer to join TFA and was invited to participate in a pilot placement program. I told them that I wanted to be in a region where there was a true need for teachers, where there was a positive relationship between TFA and the community, and where change was happening with education. I chose Memphis from a list of four regions because I read inspiring stories of young people making big changes in a city full of history. I read about parents who were fighting for awareness, about teachers walking their students home from school, and a movement to keep young talent in the city. When I chose Memphis, I only knew half of the passion that exists in this city. I believe that education is one of, if not the top priority for people in Memphis and it is energizing to be a part of this movement.
I spent my first two years teaching Chemistry and coaching girls’ soccer and girls rugby at Power Center Academy High School (PCAHS). Throughout my time at PCAHS, I have learned the power of a strong community amongst faculty; the importance of grace for students, coworkers, and myself; and that my students can think critically and grow tremendously when they are provided with adequate support. I also learned that a change in leadership can change school culture, that there are not enough students at my high school who are on grade level for math and reading, and that when you want something to change in education you have to go and do it. I want to be a part of a team that will change the game for kids before it is too late. All students deserve the opportunity to learn from passionate educators who believe in kids’ ability to succeed, who constantly strive to be better at teaching, who are willing to go above and beyond to create a community within a classroom which is #whyibelievememphisacademy is where I need to be. I want to be surrounded by teachers who want to be the best they can be and motivated by leaders who will challenge and support me, all so that students can be better than they ever though they could be.
Ms. Hitchcock is a Teach For America Alumnus who is entering her 3rd year of teaching in Memphis. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota. Through her teaching career, she has coached multiple sports and been involved in several community organizations like Engineers Without Borders. We are so excited to have Ms. Hitchcock as a founding teacher of Believe!