After graduating from TPP in June 2012, I was hired to teach English at Collingswood High School, a public school in South Jersey. I’m currently in my second year as a teacher and now more than ever I’m convinced that teaching and I were made for each other. That said, my first year of teaching was quite a challenge (basically a polite way of saying “nightmare”), a perilous pedagogical potpourri of disrespectful students (who took advantage of my neophyte status), daily detentions, an observation that went awry when a student stormed out of my classroom (but not before saying, loud enough for my observing supervisor to hear, “I hate this class!”), and self-doubt, self-doubt, and self-doubt. Things began to turn around midway through the year and now in my second year I’m much more confident and comfortable in my own skin as a teacher. Nevertheless, teaching still dishes out new challenges every day, and, frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way; I feel more alive and creative with each challenge I confront.
I will always be grateful to TPP for putting me on the path to such an invigorating profession. I quit my job as an office manager in 2011 to return to Princeton for its TPP program and it was one of the scariest AND best decisions I’d ever made. TPP restored the self-confidence that 12 years as an office worker had come close to destroying. TPP showed me that I did, in fact, have what it takes to be a teacher. TPP put me back in touch with my inner gladiator and unleashed it through the practice-teaching sessions it allowed me to experience—whether it was the 5-minute one delivered to my fellow TPP301 classmates or the full-blown, official ones delivered at Montgomery High School and Princeton High School (the latter being where I student-taught for 4 months). Those teaching experiences gave me the tools that enabled me to withstand the metaphorical slings and arrows that were hurled my way during my first full year as a teacher at Collingswood.
Princeton’s Program in Teacher Preparation defibrillated my life and reminded me that we each have an inner reserve of strength that’s wider, deeper, and more durable than we could ever imagine.
TPP note: Kwame is also a published author. His novel The Problem with the Other Side (published in 2021)is written for young adults, and Amazon describes the novel as, “A searing YA debut that follows the joys, complexities, and heartbreaks of an interracial romance between high school sophomores that blossoms during a volatile school election.”