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Shaundalyn Elliott's Diary
The First 180 Days

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Curriculum CenterShaundalyn Elliott, a recent college graduate, always dreamed of being a corporate lawyer. Her deep feelings of responsibility to the minority students in her hometown led her instead to a teaching position at her alma mater, an urban middle school in Montgomery, Alabama. Each week during this school year -- Shaundalyn's first year in the classroom -- she will share with Education World readers her thoughts and feelings about her first 180 days!

August 24, 2000

I am Shaundalyn Elliott, a resident of Montgomery, Alabama. I attended Alabama State University, where I earned a B.S. in language arts and English education.

Shaundalyn Elliot This is my first year teaching; I am working at Goodwyn Junior High School in Montgomery, Alabama, my alma mater. The school has a relatively large enrollment, with more than 700 seventh, eighth, and ninth graders. The halls are adorned with the same red, white, and gray pride that I loved as a student there. I am very excited about working with Mrs. Kostick, the principal, who was also my Spanish teacher in eleventh grade. She has watched me mature and is just as anxious to work with me as I am to work with her.

Becoming a teacher was not my first choice for a career. In fact, my lifelong dream was to major in political science and become a corporate attorney. I began my college career as an English major, without a concentration in education.

During my sophomore year, however, I began to hear about the ebonics craze that was sweeping the country. I was appalled that schools would allow minority children to speak non-standard English. It seemed as though they were being mocked and either did not know it or lacked the voice to represent themselves if they did know it. I wanted to be that voice. I have a steadfast belief that all children, regardless of race, creed, or sex, should be taught to use correct English. How else will they learn?

During the spring semester of that same year, I decided to add education (English education) to my major. I felt compelled to help solve the problem. The best way I knew to do this was to go into classrooms. During classroom observations, I questioned teachers, other staff members, and even a few principals about their views on ebonics. What I heard made me even more driven to teach. Only a few people opposed the idea of ebonics, and most of the people who did belong to minority groups.

Discouraged about what I was seeing in the school systems, I began to doubt my desire to teach. I prayed for guidance, and during my internship at Goodwyn in the spring of 2000, I received my answer. I connected with the students, and they did the same with me. I felt that I was supposed to be there. Teaching seemed to just come naturally and, to tell you the truth, I'm so glad it did!

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08/24/2000