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Fellow Q&A: WW Teaching Fellow Lawanda Mitchell

Lawanda Mitchell waits on a student's answer during a lecture.

Lawanda Mitchell waits on a student’s answer during a lecture.

WW Teaching Fellows come from many different backgrounds but are united by a single goal: to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (the STEM fields) to some of the nation’s highest-need students. But what makes these Fellows tick? What inspired them to pursue a career in the classroom? In this WW Perspectives series, we hear from WW Teaching Fellows about what drew them to the program.

Lawanda Mitchell is a 2012 WW Indiana Teaching Fellow currently teaching science at Lynhurst 7th and 8th Grade Center in Wayne Township, Indiana. Lawanda is deeply committed to her students’ success, as she tells WW Perspectives here:

WWP: Teaching in different community settings has been a part of your life for a while now. What drew you to teaching biology as a career?

Lawanda Mitchell: What drew me to teaching was the opportunity to influence students who were considered underserved and underprivileged and show them how valuable and extraordinary they are. My mission and purpose quickly became to take a system that was obviously broken and use the least of them to build it back up, one classroom, one school, one state at a time.

WWP: What do you think was the best preparation that you received for the realities of classroom teaching?

LM: The best preparation that I received through the program was the immediate immersion into the classroom. The experience that I gained from having the opportunity to work one on one with students as well as act as their lead teacher was priceless. I would definitely recommend this type of hands-on learning experience to individuals who want to become experts in the field of teaching.

WWP: What matters to you most about your students?

LM: What matters most to me about my students is their wellbeing. I believe it is not only my job but also my duty to make sure that I help mold them into well-rounded, confident, and intelligent human beings.

WWP: What’s the most rewarding part of teaching, for you?

LM: The most rewarding part of teaching for me is the smile, the hug, or the casual conversations that come as a form of appreciation from students once they realize that I have taught them to do something that they said they would never be able to do or once they have become someone they never thought they would be able to become.

WWP: What would you say to someone who’s considering becoming a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow?

LM: If teaching is in your heart, along with a strong desire and passion to serve the young people of this generation, then this is the program for you. Teaching has to be something that you are willing to do inside and outside of the classroom as you are setting the tone of what the future will look like, one student at a time.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.


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