What it means to make a difference through education

Freshman Alan Wells talks about why he chose to go into education.

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For freshman Alan Wells, the idea to become a social studies teacher came from a desire to give students like him an opportunity. Wells feels that students should have a teacher they can connect with on a deeper level than someone who just grades their assignments.

“I wanted to get into teaching because, basically, I was a bad kid at first,” Wells said. “Being a minority, a black kid, you don’t get the same treatment as white kids. Basically, I wanted to get into teaching because a lot of teachers gave up on me earlier on in school, and I feel like each kid should have an opportunity. They should be able to see a familiar face.”

While Wells hasn't settled on a specific school he wants to work at in the future, he would like it to be somewhere near his old school in Kansas City, Missouri. When he gets a classroom of his own, Wells wants to make sure he gets to know his students and his students get to know him.

“If they have trouble they can come to me, and I can help them fix it and not feel excluded or outcast from the school,” Wells said. “And if they need that extra voice, [then] I’ll be there for them ... to know that you can actually go and do something with your life.”

Wells had wanted to be a teacher his whole life, but he has held back because of the pay that comes with it. After meeting people in high school, he was struck with the desire to make a difference. Wells encourages others to go for what they want in life and forge their own path.

“I had a few people, like a team of teachers and faculty at my school that really helped me and made a difference in my life,” Wells said. “Which makes me want to make a difference in other kids' lives.”

According to an article written by KIPP reporter Chandra Whitfield, only 2% of teachers are black males. Wells is looking to change this statistic.

“Be the change that [you] want to happen, so if you want to see more black males or you want to see more males in the teaching community, be that guinea pig that first starts it,” Wells said. “And then they’ll see ‘Oh this is not something [that’s] not normal.’ … Once one person goes, the second person goes, after that second person, the third person.”

Freshman Roman Leapheart met Wells in their Learning Strategies for College Students class. The two became fast friends because of their similar personalities.

“Alan is a good guy and he has a really big heart and he just cares,” Leapheart said. “I think that's something you’ll need, especially being a black male going into education, which is [like] a myth-buster discovering bigfoot … You don’t ever see that. So I just think that he has a big heart and he’s always willing to be helpful which is something you need to be a good teacher.”

Edited by Sophie Stephens | sstephens@themaneater.com

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