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After celebrating our 40th day on the road, camping among the mystical stone arches of Utah, running through the whispering cornfields of Kansas and dancing the night away at a wedding of two Teach for America rock star teachers in St. Louis, we completed the long stretch from Phoenix to Chicago…
Our base at the Illinois Institute of Technology was nestled within the avant-garde and industrial architecture of the McCormick Tribune Campus Center. The flow of our conversations with passing corps members was intermittently interrupted by the hum and rattle of trains passing through the suspended subway tunnel that pierces the building’s roof. Teachers heading to Chicago, Jacksonville, Milwaukee, Seattle, St. Louis and the Twin Cities were plowing through the city heat wave while undergoing rigorous teacher training and encountering the urgency of America’s achievement gap for the first time. They fueled their fire with a flash mob in the cafeteria, phone calls home to report student success and interactions with our table which provided emotional catharsis and a beam of enthusiasm for the future. We met corps members that had just returned from the Peace Corps and wanted to connect back to the kids in their placement countries, corps members who would be teaching large immigrant populations and wanted to honor their students’ cultural origins in their classroom, and corps members who were headed to schools with global missions who were wondering how they were going to develop a relationship between their inner-city American classroom and the rest of the world. The thrill was mutual as we toured these young teachers through United Classrooms and talked about how they could use it to fit their needs.
Along with crossing the 700 sign-up mark, we have spent this time looking forward to our return to New York and the official launch of United Classrooms on July 30!